Monday, October 01, 2007

On Whining

There is nothing that irritates me more than whining. I can tolerate it better from a 4 year-old than a 20 year-old, but I don't like it in either case. I started thinking about whining last night as I was kept awake by my daughter, who just seemed incapable of getting herself back to sleep. She wasn't really whining, since she can't really communicate any other way than to cry or sometimes scream. But, nonetheless, the effect of her crying got me thinking about how much I am turned off by whining. I am not sure why and so it seemed like as good an idea as any to write about whining today.

The iconic whiner, to me, is a college student who starts complaining about the amount of reading, or the length of the exam, or the stress of juggling several papers at once. It is usually a young woman, who has decided that I am her buddy more than her professor, and she starts expressing in baby-like whining language how freaked out she is, stressed out she is, and wants me to fix it for her. She usually does this in front of the entire class, since there is no problem presenting yourself as a ditsy, whining little girl on my campus. After all, many of these 18-22 year old women are donning ponytails with big grosgrain pink polka dot ribbons. Looking like a little girl is de rigeur around these parts.

My usual response is to immediately ban whining. I warn that if she continues to whine, then I will add more work. I know, not very kind of me, nor good disciplining, but, I do it nonetheless. I just want the whining to stop. Why? Why does it bug me so much?

Part of it might be that these young women are acting like babies to get their way. And, now that I have a baby, I know how effective crying/whining is. Maddie does, in the end, get her way. But, it seems to me that there should be much more sophisticated ways of getting your way as a young female than to resort to baby-like pouting. I can't imagine that these young women were indulged in their whining when they were 4 year-olds; didn't their parents say "use your words" or something similar?

Whining is a behavior adopted among many cutesy young women to bend people and institutions toward their will. The downside is that they lose all credibility as adults in the process. I mean, look at how annoyed I am at them. How will the professional world ever take these young women seriously if this is their only tool for getting help, attention, or a reprieve?

Bottom line: whining is a survival skill that tiny infants, incapable of speech, adopt to get the attention of their caretakers. Once speech becomes possible, whining has to go . . .