The Worst Sound a Baby Can Make, and How to Deal

When he was a baby, my son Riley was the most impatient creature on the face of this earth. Oh, your child is impatient? No. Your child is a burbling spa-like environment of Buddhist chants, aromatherapy, and Xanax-flavored ice cream cones compared to how my child behaved. I'm sorry, I win this horrible game.

I remember fervently praying that it was a stage rather than some sort of indication of his long-term temperament, because otherwise he would surely be in for an incredibly frustrating existence as he learned that not only do parents take more than .0001 seconds to pour the milk, but traffic lights sometimes stay red for entire MINUTES ON END! Water does not boil INSTANTLY! The DMV will suck YEARS FROM YOUR LIFE!


He would yell at the top of his pint-sized lungs over the smallest delay, and he reacted to any impediment—a toy pushed partially under the TV stand, for instance—with what I came to think of as the Most Annoying Sound in the World, an irritated "Eh, eh, eh, eh, EHHHHH" noise that was like listening to someone dragging their nails down a blackboard while Rebecca Black sang "Friday" and a nearby cat repeatedly threw up a hairball…only worse.

What is it about whining that is so obnoxious to listen to? It's like a physical thing, the whining, that trepans into your skull, penetrates your brain tissue, and makes you daydream about doing things like throwing a banana pie directly into your sweet innocent child's face—just to see his expression change.

We tried to encourage him to solve his own easily-solvable problems ("Hey, how about reaching under the TV stand, sweetie? You know, since the powers of telekinesis you so clearly long for have not come to fruition yet.") but the whining went on for months. And months. "My GOD," I once howled to the ceiling one morning when Riley was issuing forth a particularly obnoxious foghorn-level complaint about the amount of time the toaster was taking. "SERIOUSLY. I will BUY YOU A PONY. I will pay you a MILLION DOLLARS if you just be QUIET for ONE SINGLE SOLITARY MINUTE."

(By the way, it never works to tell a small child to be quiet. Never. Ever. In fact 9 out of 10 times you'll get the exact opposite effect of what you were aiming for.)

So like with most parenting challenges, we turned to humor to get us through. We taught Riley to say, "Chill out."

"Duuuuude. You need to CHILL. OUT," one of us would say, whenever Riley started doing his dying-goat impression because his puzzle piece had turned slightly and wouldn't fit in its hole, or whatever.

"CHIW. OUT," he'd repeat, delighted. And I swear, half the time he would forget what he was so pissed about. "CHIW OUT. RIWWY CHIW. OUT."

It didn't actually help with his impatience, but hearing a baby say "CHIW OUT" was both funny and cute, and briefly reminded us of why we liked him in the first place. This method worked until the Terrible Twos, at which point we just started using earplugs.

How do you deal with epic levels of whining? Do you have any tricks for saving your sanity?

Image via Linda Sharps

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