It started out as a perfectly good and pleasant morning.
I woke up in a good mood, with enough time to get ready and pull myself together before anyone (i.e. the kiddos) came to me with his or her most urgent and pressing needs.
Everyone was cooperative. Everyone was in a good mood. Things were running smoothly—perhaps too smoothly—for a Monday morning. There were no arguments at breakfast, no disgruntled appeals or impossible food requests. Everything was, as my mom liked to say, “copasetic.”
And then….*cue ominous music*…it happened. The whine. It came from out of nowhere, as it usually does for most three-year-olds.
“I don’t wanna….[fill in the blank]…”
“I don’t wanna….[fill in the blank again]…”
Something hulk-like happens to me when I hear “the whine.” The nostrils start flaring, my fledgling biceps start bulking. The complete transformation to Parental Hulk however only takes full effect after I’ve asked the one question a parent should never ask:
“Why are you whining???”
We don’t ask because it’s not a good or appropriate question. We don’t ask because when said toddler is fully in the “whine state,” you will rarely, if ever, get a rational, coherent answer.
You might as well tag on a few more for fun, like, “What is the meaning of life? Or, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
You get the picture. It’s a black hole. Just don’t go there.
Eventually, and without rhyme or reason, my son snapped back to his cheerful self and I apologized for going all green on him. As I began my personal debriefing to understand why I’m so easily triggered by whining and how I can respond better next time, a burning question entered my mind.
“Did Jesus whine?” And if so, “How did Mary handle it?”
I mean, if ever a parenting standard there was…Mary certainly sets the bar high as the mother of Jesus. What does it look like to parent the Son of God? Did she face the same challenges that we do? Did she have mom-fail days too? If you’re a dad, perhaps you’re asking, “Did Joseph ever lose his cool with Jesus in the carpentry shop?”
Truth is, we don’t really know if Jesus ever whined or what his childhood behavior was like until we catch a glimpse of him at age 12 having faith-filled discussions with the teachers in the Temple and amazing them with his wisdom and understanding (Luke 2).
And there’s probably a good reason for it. But I don’t have the answer for it and neither does anyone else. And that’s my point.
It’s not the asking of the question that’s wrong here. But without an answer, the question itself becomes futile. Maybe for you it’s not so much a “why is my toddler whining?” question but more of a “why is this happening to me?” question.
I’ve come to realize that both in parenting and life in general, there are just some questions that are better left unasked. The ones to which there are no helpful answers…the ones that drain your energy, leave you more frustrated than fulfilled, and keep you from moving on to better and brighter things.
Don’t get me wrong. I love questions. They are the gateway to knowledge and truth. What we need to be careful about is not allowing the answer—or non-answer—to keep us in a black hole of unproductiveness or perpetually stuck between the chicken and the egg, so to speak.
Ask your questions. Pursue the truth. But keep moving forward, friend. Whining and all.