The Whistler

Great news: my four-year-old learned to whistle. Terrible news: my four-year-old learned to whistle.

Every male in my family is an amazing whistler, so I knew it was only a matter of time. I suffered for years unsuccessfully trying to whistle, and it didn’t finally click until I was eight, so I’ll admit to being slightly jealous that my son mastered the same task in half the time. Of course I was also impressed and proud at first, but now that it’s been three weeks, I’m desperate for him to reign it in a bit.

How can I convince him to take breaks from his new skill without tarnishing his sense of accomplishment? I was the one who lauded his ability to make these avian sounds, but as it turns out, I was woefully unprepared to weather his zeal. I have to cut off friends and family who compliment his ability because I don’t want them to fuel the white hot fire he has burning in his belly for making his lips sing. He’s like a snoozing Mickey Mouse from the 1930’s; each exhale is a cartoonishly long mating call of the sparrow. The mere act of his breathing is tinitus inducing, and he’s only getting better and louder. Coupled with the persistant “outside voice” of his younger brother, our house sounds like recess at a clown school.

I might not have been so encouraging had I known he’d pick it up so quickly. A four-year-old can’t be trusted with the ability to whistle. Just as a budding sorcerer will often become over-zealous as he learns his first spells, a young lad who’s suddenly awarded the gift of whistle might not have the discipline needed to avoid doing permanent damage to his lips and cheek muscles. If this reckless treatment of his face continues,  he’ll be permanently puckered by third grade. Since he’s already starting school on the young side, the last thing he needs is for everyone to think he’s trying to kiss them.

I’m not actually all that worried. I’ve been a parent long enough to know that one morning he’ll wake up and simply not whistle anymore. A few days will pass, and he’ll forget he ever did it, and ironically, his mom and I will become wistful of the days when the house was filled with the bittersweet cacophony of a tone deaf bird. That’s the emotional conundrum of parenting; the moment an annoying behavior disappears, we begin to mourn it because change indicates the passage of time, and as much as we want them to be different in any given moment, we also want them to remain exactly same.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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