One morning, the Introverted Thinker was whining. She was about 8, she was tired, the alarm had not gone off.
“I.T., you are whining.”
She continued to droop and delay and whine.
I thought, “I hate whining.” I thought of my parents. My mother would say, “Go away and come back when you can talk to me without whining.” I’ve read parenting books that tell us to say, “I can’t understand you when you whine. Say it without whining.”
But I was in a vulnerable place myself. I thought, when we whine, we are feeling very vulnerable. And to be sent away until we stop expressing that vulnerability, well, is that the message that I want to send? I thought, what do I want to be told when I wish I could whine or when I DO whine? Certainly not to go away alone with my whiny self. I thought: I want to be loved anyhow, even when I’m behaving badly.
I hugged her right away and said, “I love all of you, even the parts that whine.”
She stopped. Instantly. She just stood there in the hug for a moment and then got dressed, ate breakfast and went off to school. She didn’t seem insulted or hurt. It was just as if I’d heard her and reassured her: I am present when you are vulnerable and I love you. The whole you.
First published on everything2 on Wednesday, August 4, 2010