The Whiny Artiste

My wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen and I were in Target this morning. As is mandated by Target’s bylaws, the store was filled chockablock with whiny children. Usually I do my best to call upon all my Buddhist abilities to acknowledge the offending child and then to let it go.

However, today there was a rare specimen that caught my attention. This boy wasn’t just a mere whiner for the sake of whining (a feature typical to most of the Target children). No sir. This kid was a pioneer in the field of whining. He has taken the mere act of whining and developed it into a fine art. Clearly he had developed approach to whining over several months; refining his theories and constantly testing his hypothesis. He is a method whiner. A whining iconoclast – a (dare I say it?) whiconoclast.

Here’s how it works: Choose something delightful from a shelf and present it to Mother. She refuses to purchase your delightful item. (“Immediate refusal” is a whining axiom. Were the mother to immediately concede to the purchase, the entire bedrock of whining would crumble and space-time would collapse.)

Next, plead your case. Explain to Mother, just how important it is that you have said delightful item. Extrapolate just how horrific your life will be forever more if you are asked to live without your item. Again the mother will refuse.

Step three is to whine. Stomp your feet. Wail while further arguing your case in two to three word chunks between cry-breaths. Make a scene. Embarrass Mother.

This is where all other whining before The Wunderkind ended. Usually the item was ripped from your grasp, tossed aside like so much trash and you were hoisted off the floor by your elastic waist-banded pants and hauled out of the store. (Preferably anyway. Some parent choose to just leave the child whining in the aisle and continue shopping. I am firmly against this practice.)

My genius little buddy however did not stop there. This is where he gets clever. While Mother is not looking, the boy would put the item back and select a different item, but continue to appeal to Mother as if it were the first. He treated his whining time like rollover minutes. So though he may go through four or five items, Mother was not wise to the switching and thought he’d been whining about the same item for some time. Eventually Mother will come around and agree to buy whatever item he currently had.

The genius is twofold. First, Little Dude gets something where he would have otherwise received nothing. Second, he appears to have only really, really wanted one thing. All of the other children will whine for every dandy item to pass there eyes. This give Mother the idea that “he must really want that one particular thing.” Once it appears that you do actually have an interest in an item and aren’t just picking it up because it was shiny and within your grasp, the purchasability index increases exponentially.

Furthermore the kid had style. He didn’t just grab junk off the shelf willy nilly. He would consider an item much like a woman considers a blouse still on its hanger. Looking the item up and down, giving it a once over and a second over, turning it around and considering the back…and sometime deciding against the item. But also still crying and babbling about how much he needs “it” while considering the item.

I’m still not in favor of the whining at all, but kudos my friend. A tip of the hat to you.

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