Weekly Column: At the end of my rope, all out of ideas, etc., etc.

©Stephenie Freeman

I’m afraid that I’ve been losing my cool a lot lately. Hot summer days will do that to you. So will living with small children.

The Cheese Eater, when hungry or tired or frustrated or sad or feeling any other emotion other than happy, whines. And when he whines, I can feel all the patience draining out of me like a
pool with a slow leak.

I know it’s going to be a bad day when I hear whining before I hear my alarm.

“Mommmeee, I wanna waffle for breakfast.”

I roll over asking the God of Patience to grant me a few extra doses.

(Louder) “Mommmeee, I said I’m hungry!”

My day hasn’t even started yet and I ready for it to be over.

Anytime that the Cheese Eater does not get his way the whining begins. When I use my authoritative mama voice to correct his behavior (“My ears can’t hear you when you whine at me”), he starts to cry. And not fake crying either. Full out, crocodile tears, followed by the now famous line, “Why are you mad at me?”

“Buddy, I’m not mad at you. I’m frustrated with your behavior.”

To a young child this sort of logical reasoning means nothing. I thought by this age I would be able to start having Oprah Moments with my son, those Ah-Ha moments that she’s always talking about, and sometimes on a good day it happens. But when this whining is accompanied by a flood of emotions, Oprah herself couldn’t talk my son down.

The Cheese Eater has a sensitive soul and I love that about him. It’s a strong part of my genetic code that, unfortunately for him, he’s stuck with.

But as a mama who prides herself on always finding a solution, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this one. I don’t want to crush his spirit, but I also don’t want to raise a hyper-sensitive, sissy boy that one day a therapist is going to tell him is all because of me.

So, as Dr. Phil would say, I need to figure out his currency. I need to find what I can either say or do that will stop this behavior. All I’ve been doing is gritting my teeth and counting to 10.
For now, that’s all I’ve got in my bag of tricks.

I’m beginning to realize that I’m gonna need a bigger bag.

The Cheese Eater has some new words to his vocabulary. New words like “forever,” “never,” and “always” have become regulars. These words are so severe and absolute, filled with so much drama and anguish. If I didn’t know any better, I would think my son was getting his period.

I don’t know if he really grasps the severity of what he’s saying. For example, today when he was whining I told him that he needed to take a long nap.

“Forever?” he whined back at me.

“No, buddy. Taking a nap forever would be a bad thing. Do you even know what ‘forever’ means?” I asked him.


“What does it mean?” I asked again.

He couldn’t give me an answer, only proving that he has no idea what he’s really saying. Such strong statements like, “You never play with me” or “You’re always mad at me” are hard for any mama to hear. Not to mention how bad it makes me look when screamed in the middle of the grocery store.

First the whining, then crying, and now it’s quite obvious that he needs an “Extreme Vocabulary Makeover,” but simply throwing my hands up in defeat is no longer an option.

Usually I am the Mama who wants more, but right now all I want is less. Like a virus on a computer, I want to uninstall these horrible habits that my son has picked up somewhere. I’m just not sure where my son is hiding his “restart” button.

I just looked in my bag of tricks. There’s a hole in the bottom.

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