A few years ago I read a book that stayed with me. It was Karp’s Happiest Toddler on the Block. If you are a parent of a young child, at some point there comes a time when you probably have wanted to shut him outside for a while, lock the door, and go about your daily business quietly and without kid screams and whines. Perhaps even turn on some classical music and cook a nice meal while your child screams their head off outside for all your neighbors to hear.
If you are me, that desire happens at least once a day. Luckily for my neighbors and my kids, with restraint, I don’t act on it.
Karp says that instead of trying to reason with this little person who has taken over your whole rational life, it’s better to treat them like a caveman. “Cavemen were stubborn, opinionated, and not too verbal. They bit and spat when angry, were sloppy eaters, hated to wait in line, and were negative, tenacious, distractible, and impatient…sound familiar?” Um…yes. Welcome to my house, every freaking day.
So J. was gone last week and both my kids were whining. I don’t want something. I want something. I don’t want something. Blah, Blah, Blah. After a while it just becomes one big blur of high-pitched nothingness to me.
And then I remembered Karp. If I was going to talk to little Cavepeople, I had to be a Cavewoman. Children, hear mama roar.
So as my two girls sat on a bed whining about something or another for a good 10 minutes, I sang out in my highest-pitched whiney-voice and started my best 3-year old whine. “I wanna go on vacation I want daddy to be home I want to have a spa day I wanna big ol’e glass of wine I want someone to get it for me.”
Without missing a beat, both girls looked at me with eyes wide and mouths shut. After a minute A. whispered, “Mommy, do you feel ok? Do you need to rest?” and C. stuck her thumb in her mouth and leaned on me.
Score one for this cavewoman.