Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Art of Nagging

So, you know how I always seem to be here waxing poetic about these milestones Ethan reaches that may seem like no big deal to the parent of a typical kid, that I am profoundly grateful for?

Yeah, not this time.

This summer, Ethan walked effortlessly into the arena of Perfect Nagging. Worst part? I can't even be too frustrated with him -- because he gets it from me.

As a child, apparently I was a champion nagger (read also: whiner). My mom loves to tell the story of one of the times she really lost her temper with me, when we had just returned from a week's vacation in Cape Cod, and as she sat staring at loads of dirty laundry piled halfway to the ceiling, I wandered into the room and relentlessly badgered her with, "But there's nothing to doooooo! I'm booooored!"

Evidently I spent a lot of my childhood grating on my mom's nerves. I was constantly too hot, too hold, too thirsty, too scared of bugs, and so on and so forth.

With Anna, we were blessed with a non-nagger, non-whiner. She may have her quirks but that's not one of them. And for the longest time, Ethan wasn't either. I suppose before you can whine you need to get your basic communications skills down.

It started in Target, at first, in such a typical-kid way.

"Can we go see the toys?" he asked.



"We need to do our other shopping first." Five seconds later:

"How about now?"

I think that right there is the thing that gets me about Ethan's style of nagging. It's not just that he whines and needles at you, it's that he only has second-long intervals before he starts again.

The whining specifically about his tragic lot in life because he has to stand in line or eat a dinner he doesn't like must have something to do with him getting a bit better grasp or understanding of his emotions. And so, also this summer, we've started to hear things like:

"Why did you bring me to this store? I don't LIKE Big Y. This is horrible!" and -

"Why do you always make dinners I don't like? This dinner is yucky. I don't want to eat this" and the classic -

"I don't like you anymore. I don't love you. I am going to get Spider-Man to tie you up. I don't want to go to bed. This is not fun for me."

Often these episodes are shared with the world in a public place, making me look like I have a Grade A Spoiled Brat on my hands. Really, I don't encourage him to speak to me like this! I want to say to my invisible judges. He's just gotten this type of expression down. Now we have to figure out how to help him tweak the way he expresses himself.

Don't get me wrong. I don't walk around in La-La Land, letting my kid whine and nag endlessly so he can "try out" this new form of communication. As I mentioned, this is one milestone that doesn't exactly have me jumping up and down for joy. Especially when I have to hear:

"Can I play on daddy's phone?"

"Not right now."

"Why? I will go find it."

"I said no."

"I really want to find it. Where did he hide it?"

"I said not right now."

"But when? In a little while?"

"Later today."

"Please can I play it?"

"I said no."



"Can I play it now?"

I'm getting tired just writing this.

I don't know how to stop the nagging. My mom was never able to stop me. Talk to Dan, and he might say the same (although over the past few years I've REALLY been trying, I swear!). I can't put a muzzle on the boy. And yeah, there is the tiniest little part of me that is always glad to hear him talk and be conversational, after being afraid that he never might.

But the bigger part of me is sometimes wishing for ear plugs, or more patience, or a way to turn down the volume or somehow turn the nag button squarely to OFF.

Wishful thinking, I know. But a mom can dream.

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