Inside the Toddler’s Studio

Back when Inside the Actor’s Studio was a thing (it may still be a thing, but Kate Hudson has been on it so…), I used to enjoy the stupid quiz at the end, from James Lipton’s beloved Bernard Pivot.

Two of the questions involve sounds:

What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?

The actors often respond with similar child-based variations on these answers, usually something to the effect of “children laughing” or “a child crying.”

Stupid actors.

futurama, noises, Fry, babies, toddlers, parenting, dads

Let’s cover these one at a time:

What sound or noise do you love?
The pure, innocent laughter of my son when I’m tickling him or we’re playing catch is one of the highlights of my life as a dad. But as an answer to this quiz, it’s weak sauce. Everyone likes the sound of a child laughing, except maybe the Grinch and that lady that got bullied on the bus and is now a millionaire, so no points to the celebs there. Many of these actors would be more honest if they just said they loved the sound of applause or a cash register opening or an orgasm. But that wouldn’t be good for PR. Though I think Sean Penn might have said all three.

(Quick aside on the bullied lady: First of all, those weren’t children and that wasn’t laughter; that was a feeding frenzy by a pack of hyenas. Second of all, what is that lady doing keeping all that money? So she got her feelings hurt, boo-hoo. She’s a grown woman! Nice of those saps to give her a bunch of dough (over $600k? REALLY?!), and I’m sure she can use a nice vacation, but if she doesn’t give away 99% of it to some real victims, then I hope she gets bullied some more.)

What sound or noise do you hate?
A child crying is not a pleasant sound, but what these pretentious actors are really saying is that they can’t bear to think of a child in pain. It’s a cheap answer. No one likes to hear anyone scream in pain, except maybe Christian Grey! ZING! And children’s screams are especially distressing. Now, remove the context fro crying – put the sound in a vacuum and strip away its association with pain – and it still sucks, but that’s not why most of the actors chose that answer. Because if we were going purely by sound, nails on a chalkboard might take the top spot. Or cats howling. Or the music of Skrillex. But that doesn’t sound nearly as profound.

For my money, if you include context, crying comes in second to another popular child-based sound: the whine.

I’m not saying that a child screaming in pain is a nice sound, but when a kid cries because he’s in pain, at least it makes sense; it’s understandable. The kid gets a pass.dawson's creek, whining, toddlers, terrible twos, dads, parenting

Whining is another matter. When a child whines, he is not in pain. He is CAUSING pain. It is pure manipulation. He is trying to annoy the shit out of you to get what he wants. Like the egomaniacs James Lipton lives to coddle, the child is acting.

As my son either enters or settles into or (please god) slowly begins emerging from the terrible twos, his whining quotient has exploded. The whine is his go-to move.

Whining is really mostly an emotional reaction for kids and a test for parents. So does anyone know how to pass it? It’s tough to discipline the whine because it’s like punishing your child for being sad. You can ignore, but that doesn’t get fast results. You can yell, but that just turns whining into crying and makes you feel terrible. And so far I don’t think they sell muzzles for children. YET.

When your kid whines, he’s just figuring out the disappointment of not getting what he wants when he wants it, and he’s trying to figure out how to get what he wants when he wants it, primarily by being as annoying as possible. Making matters worse, the more it occurs, the more frustrated you get and the less sympathy you have for him. About the only good thing I can say about the whine is that it’s not the tantrum. When we enter the tantrum phrase I’m pretty sure the associated post will be blocked by your internet provider for obscenity. parenting, stupid kids, dads, discipline, tantrums, demotivational

That’s the catch-22 with toddlers: you want so badly to hate them for being such a-holes but at the same time you can’t help but realize it’s just growing pains. They are just trying to get by; you can’t blame them for being so bad at life.

The fact is, little kids aren’t that different from the actors I mentioned above; those actors have found a way to live a life where they get whatever they want by faking shit, and I highly suspect they were set on that path ny parents who gave into their whining when they were little.

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2 thoughts on “Inside the Toddler’s Studio

  1. I completely agree. My daughter will be 4 in December and I’m afraid the whining only gets worse. I either discipline her for it which makes me a bitch or I, as you said, ignore it and the whining grows louder and louder until I’m about ready to duck tape her mouth shut in which instance I’d be picked up (rightfully so) and hauled off for child abuse. Ahh, the joys of parenting…

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