We're working with The Bambina, who is--can you believe it--almost two years old, on using words instead of whining. From my mom's own experience, she said she finally succeeded in getting me to do it around the age of 18. Har har. But no matter! We are starting early and often, obviously to teach her verbal and social skills; but mostly to stop me from wanting to open a vein after 9 hours of "waaaaaah. waaah. uuunnnnnhhhh. wail. ad infinitum" when a simple, "Mama, up" or "Mama, help" will do.
She's been doing really well, almost to the point where I now have to watch everything I say for fear of something like, "crap" or "mother of god!" being repeated at an inopportune moment. It already happened in the car when (mais oui) a tourist walked out in front of me on a green light and I yelled, "COME OOOONNN, MORON!" A millisecond later I heard from the vehicular balcony, "Tum onh!" in my exact inflection. Yikes.
Anyway, yesterday I was on the phone with a business associate and she was whining in the background. So I said automatically, "Is there a word Bambina would like to use instead of whining?" As the sentence was leaving my mouth I noticed that her toe was stuck under a little table and it was obviously hurting her, meaning that she wasn't whining at all but trying to get my attention to help her. Just as I was feeling guilty for thinking she was a whiner, it became clear that she was less hurt than annoyed. I had no sooner finished the "Is there a word you'd like to use?..." when she stopped moaning on a dime, looked at me quite irritatedly, and then pointedly and calmly said, "Ouch."
Score so far in the Whining One-Up Sweepstakes: Bambina One, Mama Zero.