The Husband has a method to deal with The Girl, and increasingly, The Boy, when they start the whingeing...he turns them upside-down in the air and says he’s “shaking* the whinge out.” Quite often, it works, especially when dealing with a preschooler’s random no-real-reason-just-whingeing sessions, which seems to happen a lot at the moment.
I’m talking about those moments where your usually happy and increasingly articulate small person suddenly abandons the ability to speak, resorting to a high pitched nasel sound, sort of like someone running nails down a chalkboard (do people even get that reference any more?!) and the sudden inability to find any words that make any sense. Often when I get to the bottom of these sorts of moments, I simply get told “I don’t know why, I can’t stop crying!”
I have a working theory about this whinge. I am beginning to think that every toddler or preschooler gets a ‘quota’ of whinge that they have to use up during the day...(or else their head explodes or something). Normally they just tick along like always with the whinge just bursting out at random, short bursts, filling the nearby area with noise and frustration, but in small chunks, a bit at a time.
On days when the small person is somewhere they do not feel able to let the whinge leak out, on a trip out or at school or nursery, they hang on to it all day, storing it up until they are somewhere they feel they can let it out-usually at home-and that’s why, after a lovely day out or an exciting day at preschool or nursery, we get uncontrolled whinge, as it all trys to come out at once, having been saved up and added to all day.
This type of whinge completely takes over every part of the small persons body. There is no getting through to the (vaguely) rational being underneath. You just have to wait-ride it out until it burns itself out.
When they go to bed, the whinge pot slowly fills up again, ready to spill over into the next day. If it wasn’t properly emptied the day before, it starts to spill over first thing in the morning, with no break. If it has been emptied, you get a few hours grace in the morning before the pan begins to spit.
As adults, most of us have learnt that whingeing really doesn’t do us any good, and with this view in mind it’s easy to get frustrated with the whinge. But I think this misunderstands the whinge. The whinge is not designed to do anything or result in anything, the whinge has no purpose as such, it just happens.
Like when a lid gets bubbled off a pan when it’s boiling, this is not because you have pissed the pan off or it wants you to see how silly you are being not feeding it exclusively chocolate. It is not trying to manipulate you or annoy you, it’s simply because the bubbles have got to big and need somewhere to go (insert actual scientific explanation here if you need to, I think you get the idea without!)
So, as we approach Christmas and I know that there are days where the whinge can’t be let out during the day, but the whinge pot will still refill, I will steal myself for some mega-whinge, and remind myself firmly that it is not designed to wind me up (as it may seem), but it’s because it has to come out somehow, or else, you know, their heads explode (or something).
*I should point out, he has only done this since they have been big enough to handle it, there are no shaken babies here, I promise.