Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Days of Whine and Tears

Will the flippity-flip-flip-flap snow ever end? When will we get back to some sort of routine? Oh, the freakin’ white! Oh, the freakin’ cold! Oh, the freakin’ whining! Make it stop! Please!

I feel a bit better now. Thank you for listening.

You see, this is the first winter in memory when we’ve had snow on the ground and then received more snow, and then more snow again, on top of that. We’ve lived further north in Michigan and South Dakota, but I simply can’t remember this ever happening before. Of course, who am I to be astonished when our snow total is in the neighborhood of eighteen inches? It’s not the most snow I’ve ever seen at once by at least a foot. Besides, my sister and mother in Maryland have over thirty-six inches of snow. They have something to whine about.

So why am I whining? Because whining is highly contagious, and I just experienced two days trapped in my house with two little boys who whined and fought about every little blasted thing they could possibly whine or fight about.

I feel like Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: “Oh, my nerves! If I could just get them married off, they would be someone else’s problem!” But they are seven and ten, too young for marriage, even by Mrs. Bennett’s easy standards.

I wanted children. I must remind myself of this. Frequently.

First thing yesterday morning, they fought over who got to pick a movie first. (“It’s my turn!” “You always get to pick first!” “Do not!” “Do, too!”) Then they fought over the movie picked. (“Not Thomas the stupid Tank Engine! You always pick that! I hate Thomas!” “Not Eragon! I hate Eragon! You always watch movies I hate!”). Then I said, “If I hear one more word of bickering about the television, I will turn it off and neither of you will watch a single movie for the rest of the day!”

That shut them up.

For five minutes.

Nick: You can’t eat ice cream for breakfast!
Jack: I can, too!
Nick: No, you can’t. You need to eat something healthy!
Jack: FINE! I’ll eat pretzels.
Nick: That’s not healthy!
Jack: Yes, pretzels are healthy. Mom, are pretzels healthy?
Me: No, Jack, they aren’t. You need to eat a bar, a banana, or cereal.
Jack: Nooooooo!
Nick: See, I told you, Jack. You have to eat healthy.
Me: What are you having for breakfast, Nick?
Nick: Goldfish.

And so it went. On and on. Nick actually broke down in tears and cried because…are you ready for it?…Jack ate the Starbursts Nick had been saving since Halloween. Can you believe the hideousness of the crime?!? Then Jack pitched a complete tantrum because George wanted him to put on his clothes before heading out to play in the snow.

Parents are so unreasonable.

There were moments of joy, such as when Jack caught a fish on Wii Play. They were cooperating and getting along, mainly because Nick was fishing for unearned time on the Wii. We make him read to earn limited time every day, a restriction explained to him in detail before the Wii entered our house. Jack, however, wants nothing to do with the Wii anyway. By getting his brother to play, Nick snuck some extra time because he was “helping” his brother.

This might not have been so bad, except that the last two weeks have been a Groundhog Day of whining and tears. Oh, the circumstances vary a bit when the weather permits us to make it out of the driveway, such as on Saturday when we spent three hours at the optometrist’s office. The happy conclusion of much whining there: both my children have 20/20 vision. Both, however, deeply desire glasses. Nick pretends indifference, but he malingered (a fancy medical term for lied), pretending he was both colorblind and couldn’t read the big E. When he thought Dr. Hampton had his “prescription” in front of his eyes, he saw 20/20.

Jack, on the other hand, walked into the exam room, climbed in the chair, and announced, “I’m ready for my glasses now!” Dr. Hampton asked why he wanted glasses. “I want to show my friends at school. My friend has glasses. I want glasses.” She had him cover one eye and showed him the last line on the chart. He read the tiny letters perfectly. He repeated this performance with his other eye. Oh, the tragedy of perfect vision! So many tears!

Other tragedies hit my house-bound children yesterday which provoked whine and tears. We ate all the brownies, and there were no more! They couldn’t watch movies or play the Wii every second of the day. Our firstborn had to shovel a path on the deck so the old, arthritic, crippled dog could get out into the yard to do his business. Nick also couldn’t have a play date with a friend who lives in another neighborhood. Jack couldn’t go on a nine-hour road trip to see cousin Rory or scream “Pikachu, I choose you!” over and over and over and over again.

Even over dinner, Nick whiningly insisted that he did not owe me extra reading for the extra time he snuck on the Wii. I swear that boy should be a lawyer when he grows up. I can see his television advertisement now: "Wish you were injured in the workplace? Talk to Raihala Law. We can make that worker's compensation happen for YOU. Malingerers welcome. I understand your suffering!"

George and I finally got the two whiny ones in bed, and we sat peacefully watching the Olympics while waiting for Lost to start. Lost is our one network-television indulgence these days. Nick interrupted the peace and called me upstairs, where we had the following conversation.

Nick: Mom, you’re probably going to say no, but I’m going to ask anyway. I don’t like the rule about having to read to earn time on the Wii. Can we just agree that I’ll read more but not have to read to play the Wii?
Me: No.
Nick: Please!
Me: No. You must read to earn time on the Wii. We’re done.
Nick: This stinks!

Oh, son, you have no idea.


  1. oh susan!!
    i'm sure you can hear me laughing all the way from salt lake!!
    my fellas are 24 and 26, and it seems like last tuesday we had days JUST like this!!!!!!!!
    i've also decided that the only reason Groundhog Day is funny is because you are NOT in it. when you are in it, there's nothing funny about it!!!!!!

    hang in there. spring will come, and then there will be new things to fight about, and cry about, and negotiate about. and laugh about! your fellas sound awesome, and will continue to make you proud as they grow up.
    thanks for brightening my day!
    marty ferraro

  2. LOL! Thank you! I have not had to endure snow, but yesterday was a really perfect day for playing outside...and oh what a relief it was to send them out in the morning, and besides a few eating times, all day and to have 3 very tired and happy kids. Okay, we had whining b/c they were so tired they couldn't function, but bedtime was a breeze! LOVE LOVE LOVE your reading to earn Wii time. So far I have managed to keep that and all similar devices out of the house, but I don't know how much longer I'll win that battle, but I have a way to balance it out. WONDERFUL idea, and keep it up! Sounds like you are doing just fine.

  3. I don't know if this helps, but it's 60F and sunny here and my two little terrorists (I mean girls) are doing the same things and more. Why can't the dog wear our ballerina skirts and put on lipstick? They obviously haven't read the chow chow code of ethics. It will get better for you as you become more seasoned. (Look for the teen years). Enjoy the fun and thanks for a good laugh.

  4. Oh, Susan, I feel your pain. We have had snow on the ground since October! I can't remember an uglier winter since I moved here fourteen years ago.
    And the whining...don't get me started. Have comfort knowing that you are not alone!
    Thanks for the giggles. I can totally relate.

  5. Oh the joys of motherhood!! My world has been full of Pokemon recently - I decided yesterday that I will be a Machoke - do you know why? The special moves are Submission, Wake-Up Slap and Scary Face - all good moves for moms (I really wish I could use the Wake-Up Slap)! However, lately, they seem to "miss". SIGH. . .

  6. I'm so glad I found my way to your blog, that post was super entertaining. Brought back so many memories of my four (now beautifully all grown up and two of them parents themselves), their fights were just about different things. A couple of weeks ago I listened to my twin 11 year old grand-daughters arguing about who was going to hold the bottle of milk on the way home! The kind of thing that can drive a parent crazy and amuse a grandmother no end!

  7. Pauline said it so well: The kind of thing that can drive a parent crazy and amuse a grandmother no end!

    I have four grown kids, who never (hardly ever) argue or whine anymore, and five grandchildren, who amuse us no end, doing to their parents those things that drove us crazy. It is rewarding sometimes to hear one of our children tell how "my mother solved THAT problem!" Like arguing over who gets to sit in the front seat of the car -- it rotated by the month.

    BTW, I absolutely love your idea of earning time on the Wii by reading! I will be passing that along to my children.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!