I have recently begun employing a new parenting method here in the Smith house. You haven't read about it in those helpful tomes by Drs. Spock or Spears, nor have you seen Matt and Meredith chatting about it on morning TV. Nope, this one is all mine, and you lucky few who read my blog are about to be let in on my little secret. You might want to grab a pen and pad to take notes, or you could just bookmark this post for future reference...
Let me give you some background. As you may know, either from reading my blog regularly or from reading my little "about me" blurb over yonder on the sidebar, I have a kid. She is five. (Or almost five and a half, as she has been reminding us for ages now. Technically, she'll be five and a half on the 26th of this month.) She just began kindergarten in September. I'm not sure if it is from being in school all day and riding the bus with older kids (all the way up to second grade!) or just a general thing about this age, but my GOODNESS has she been developing an Attitude, yes, with a capital A. This Attitude is manifesting itself in many ways - the hands-on-hips stance, complete with eye rolling and hair tossing. The exasperated tone with dramatic sighs. Impertinence. Sass and talking back. (Now, while I think a lot of this must come from hanging with her peers for seven hours a day, five days a week, I will cop to sometimes being a Less Than Perfect Mom and occasionally modeling some of those mannerisms - especially the exasperated tone.) The one that gets to me the worst, though, is the whiiiiiiiiiiiiiining. Nails-on-a-chalkboard, that is to me. (Not sure why I suddenly slipped into Yoda-speak, there. I'm not even a huge Star Wars fan - or rather: A huge Star Wars fan, I am not.) Anyhoo, the whining. The incessant whining. It has driven me to the very edge of the Cliffs of Insanity. Along with the whining comes a refusal to listen - not just the selective hearing that all children have, mind you, but a stubborn, mulish, utter refusal to stop the whiny, verbal diarrhea long enough to hear reason. This one-two combo is the quickest way to make me want to pack my bags, grab my passport and flee to a Caribbean Isle until Kiddo has grown up and gotten over herself.
I've tried many things in an attempt to curtail the whining. I've given automatic time-outs for whining. I've done the "I'm sorry, but I can't hear you when you talk in that tone" thing (which some of our friends have tried with much success with their younger child). I've done the flat-out ignoring any and all whining. Seasonally, I've gone so far as to threaten with the Big Guy in Red ("You know, Santa knows when you've been whining, and he doesn't bring presents to kids who whine...") I've even mimicked the tone and whined back - that actually worked for a brief spell, though it drove me almost as crazy to whine back as it did to hear Kiddo whine. It was like living in an early 80s SNL sketch, and not in a good way. I've even attempted to reason with her on the topic, trying to get her to see how her whining doesn't bring about positive results. (I know, I know, reason with a five year old? Hah!) No matter what I did in an attempt to STOP THE INSANITY, Kiddo persisted.
So, the other day, I was at my wits' end. (I don't have many wits about me to begin with, so I hate to reach the end of them.) Kiddo was whining on and on and on one afternoon, and nothing I said or did was able to end it. When she attached herself to my elbow and began to whine for the gazillionth time in a three hour span, I lost it. This is where my new parenting tip was born.
I stopped speaking English. I didn't bust out my rusty Spanish, rustier Italian or even rustiest of all Latin on her.
Yes, I began responding only in Cat. I meowed and I hissed and I meowed some more. Whatever Kiddo said to me, I replied in Cat.
And you know what? It worked!
Kiddo was shocked at first, then frustrated, then finally, amused and while she tried to be mad, she couldn't help but laugh. This snapped her straight out of the whining and bad attitude and turned her back into my pleasant, cheerful, little girl. Ahhhhhhh.
I've since learned that if I bust out the meowing, I can head off all but the worst Attitude Attacks and the godforsaken whining. Sometimes, a warning "prrrrow?" is all it takes. Yes, I will meow even in public. I really have grown utterly immune to the gawps, tsk-tskings and head-shakings of other people, as having a child with SPD leads one to either develop a very thick skin or simply never go out in public. Heck, I've done Opera Day in public, so a little meowing? No big deal!
So there you have it, my blogosphere friends. Heather's Parenting the Jellicle Way (patent pending). Feel free to try it in your own home. Hopefully, it will work as well for you as it has for me!
(And, as I'm referencing Cats, I am going to leave you with a Cats music video of one of my favorite Broadway actors, Terrence Mann, who originated the role of the Rum Tum Tugger on Broadway, way back in the early 80s.....)