When It Pays to Kvetch – by Jamie

“Kvetch” comes from the Yiddish word kvetshn, which means, literally, to squeeze, or press. When spoken in English, it can be used as a verb: “To complain persistently and whiningly,” or as a noun: “A chronic, whining complainer.” We use it both ways in my house: “Jayda! Stop kvetching!” and “Jayda! Don’t be such a kvetch.”

I’m a big klutz, and it’s not surprising that my daughter has inherited some of my clumsy tendencies. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t bump her head on a table or scrape her knee from a minor fall, or even accidentally bite her tongue or her very own finger. Rarely are her “accidents” anything to worry about, but if you were to listen to Jayda, you’d think they were all quite dire. “Mommy…I hurt my finger,” she’ll announce after lightly banging her pointer on a toy. If I dare to only glance at it quickly, she’ll continue loudly “It really, really hurts.” “You’ll be ok, Jayda,” I may reassure her. And then the kvetching will really kick in: “Mommy…it really, really hurts! I need a band-aid. I really need a band-aid. I need it now!!!” Left to her own devices, Jayda’s entire body would be covered with band-aids, so sometimes I have to refuse. But too much kvetching can convince me to relent just so I can get some peace and quiet. Lately, I’ve been considering buying band-aids by the case.

Hunger can also cause Jayda to kvetch; however, most of the time her “hunger” is just for cookies. “Mommy…I’m really, really hungry,” she’ll whine first thing in the morning. Then she’ll shake her head at the cereal, fruit, yogurt, and toast I might offer her. “I want dat” she’ll finally announce—and point at a box of cookies, or leftover cake from the night before. When I refuse, she turns into a full-fledged kvetch: “But I really, really want it. And I’m really, really hungry. Please, Mommy. Puleeeease!” Generally I hold firm on the “no cookies for breakfast” rule, but I do give in to her “I’m really, really hungry” kvetching sometimes at night (when I know she’s using it as a stalling tactic so she doesn’t have to go to bed). Kvetching can be quite powerful.

Jayda the kvetch also refuses to get into our car on a hot day, and I’m forced to put the key in the ignition, turn on the A/C, and stand outside with her for awhile until the car cools off. She also kvetches every single morning after she gulps down a full sippy cup of warm milk, which is her favorite. “Mommy…my belly hurts! I want to sit on your lap. Can you rub my belly?” I’ll admonish her: “This happens every day, Jayda! You need to slow down and sip your milk! You drink it too fast!” But then I’ll sweep her onto my lap and indulge her. So, generally, her kvetching pays off.

Like her mommy, Jayda knows kvetching equals getting attention; and it’s nice to get noticed—even if you sometimes irritate people along the way. I just finished up my first semester at school for speech language pathology and I constantly moaned and groaned about how much work I had, or how nervous I was before every test. I did it on Facebook—and I kvetched to my parents and friends in person, too. And they gave me sympathy—which was just what I needed—as well as the confidence that I would do great. And guess what? I got three A’s—and possibly an A+ (I’m still waiting for my final grades). I’m a kvetch—but a smart kvetch. And so is my daughter. With three more years of school ahead of me, there will be lots more kvetching from me to tolerate. But what goes around, comes around…I’m sure I’ll be indulging “Jayda the kvetch” for the rest of my life.