When every hour is whine o’clock…

Author’s note: when reading this post, it’s important to imagine each word read out in as whiny, annoying a tone as possible. Plee-eee-eeease.

It starts first thing in the morning, at around 6:30am. The request could be anything – “can I go to the toilet / can I go downstairs / can I have a drink of water?” On cue I respond with “how do you ask nicely?”, thereby getting the required “please” .* I wouldn’t mind any of this. Okay, I would, a bit, but they are reasonable requests for little people to make. It’s just the tone that gets to me. I can’t stand the tone. Reader, my children whine.

At this point in time they whine all the time. They don’t even have to be upset. It’s just their normal way of talking. They can be making an entirely mundane request – “mummy, can I have some toast?” – yet each time it’s expressed in the most miserable way possible – “mum-meeee, you’re not giving me any toast!!” I don’t even know why they’re doing it. Overnight they’ve turned into Morrissey (albeit minus the racism). Just what is going on? Why are they so whiney? WHY? (And no, I’m not accepting “must be hereditary”. Bugger off, you.)

As soon as the whining starts  I find myself thinking of those nature programmes in which animals recognise the specific cry of their young and drop worms or whatever into hungry mouths. I recognise the cry of my young and the response it provokes in me is similarly instinctive. It does not, however, make me want to feed them Coco Pops or Monster Munch. It makes me want to swear. A lot. I honestly feel the tension spreading through me, as though I’m doing yoga in reverse. I could be on one of those popular science programmes, wired up to machines, with Robert Winston providing a voiceover on how “the extreme rise in cortisol at the sound of her child’s voice produces a state of excessive pissed-offness”, before explaining that “according to recent literature such a state is typical of the terminally crap mother”.

I find the whining worse than anything I’ve had to deal with before. When babies cry for hours on end, at least they’re not saying any actual words. You can kid yourself that they’re actually expressing some profound Weltschmerz. It’s different when you’re being told that the reason for this grating sound is simply you not having buttered toast right up to the very edges. Similarly, full-on tantrums I can take. I tend to be able to assume a position of detached amusement because they’re so blatantly over the top. Whining is more insidious. It seeps into your soul. It destroys your ability to think clearly. It makes you really cross, but in a low-level, substandard way. No one else is yelling his or her head off so you’re not allowed to, either. Yet whining back makes no difference whatsoever.

Perhaps it all gets worse and worse. I dread to think what having a teenager will be like. Although in some ways, I don’t. Given my enduring disappointment with both myself and the state of the world, I often I imagine I’ll have deep sympathy for whatever it is my teenagers kick off about (especially if it’s merely Mummy being rubbish). But whining is just unbearable. I find myself pleading (in an unintentionally whiny voice) “why can’t you ask for Weetabix nicely? Don’t you see how sad this makes me?” Half-arsed emotional blackmail at breakfast – that’s what I’m reduced to.

I seriously think there should be support groups for parents of children who whine. Except if you went along to one you wouldn’t want to sit through someone else whining about their own child’s whining. You’d want them to shut the fuck up and listen to you for once. Hence, I imagine, the point of this blog post. Thank you for listening. Hey, you’re still here, right?

* Albeit in the confusingly phrased “please may you let me go to the toilet / go downstairs / have a drink of water?”, a godawful construction which I haven’t yet been arsed to correct.

5 thoughts on “When every hour is whine o’clock…

  1. I recently heard about a study that found that whining was actually the most annoying sound in the world. I already knew that BEFORE the study!

    Good luck!

  2. I was already thinking “there but for the lack of a successful reproductive strategy go I” on your earlier “the parable of the demi-banana” post (cunning entryist rhetorical device as that turned out to be). No court in the land, etc, etc. You’re taking one for the replacement rate team.

    I think teenagers, though by no means entirely without whine, have a resonant emotional frequency that’s further towards the “shouty” end of the spectrum. And have developed a certain low cunning in their strategies for masking the dagger of naked id behind a modicum of cloak of self-rationalising ego. Which on balance, makes me feel somewhat less like destroying the local time-space continuum to make it all stop. And you’re “allowed” a certain amount of shouting back at that stage, right? (I think that was intended as “cause for guarded optimism”, but maybe more “guarding” than either “cause” or “optimism.)

  3. I have been sniggering into my cornflakes while reading this, I agree the whining is insidious and wears me down, my eldest is eight and it shown no sign of abating, their bedtime and wine is the only thing that helps!

  4. If you can’t beat them, join them!

    Now my children are a little older and both at school I have given in to the torture of whining and join in. I either respond in ‘that’ voice or mimick them using ‘that’ voice. They think its partly funny and partly annoying but never fails to snap them out of it because (I hope) they see how silly it is. It also makes me less irritated because I put my energy into the performance!

    I love “yoga in reverse” excellent! :o)

  5. Yeah, I seem to spend my life saying “You won’t get anything off me if you keep using the whingey voice”, and mine are 4 and 7. Hopefully the message will kick in soon, but I won’t hold my breath.

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