Hate is not a word we say in our house. Except for the spirited University of Arizona hatred… and for the Nazis… it doesn’t exist to us. However, it was said last week, and it slammed the brakes on this whackado steroid-induced happy train I’m on. My 4-year-old told me she hated me – on Valentine’sDay. It was a deliberate, spiteful, look-me-in-the-eye,“I hate you.” It was the first time she ever spoke those words in her life, and they were directed at me on a day we celebrate love. We took the necessary steps to correct the behavior, and later sat her down to explain that we don’t say hate especially to our loved ones. I wasn’t hurt. She’s four. It’s not like she meant it. I wasn’t hurt because I believe we do an awesome job providing so much love, it’s smothering. In fact, I think I even responded to her words with, “Really? You hate me? Well, I love you even though you’re mad.” We have a rule in our house that we have to say I love you before we part – every time. Military life teaches us this one – you can never take time with your loved ones for granted – tell them you love them. Daily, I swipe her hair behind her ears and whisper I love yous, read to her, sing songs alongside her, and play any game, even if it’s hide-and-seek for the fifth time in one day. We have a lot of love in our home and it’s expressed in many ways. So, when she said she hated me, I thought well, I always knew she was going to tell me she hates me, but at age four? Aren’t we about ten years too early for that?
The other day I had the girls in the car to run errands and one of our stops was on post. To drive onto a military installation you have to flash your ID to pass through a security gate. I pulled up to the security guard and handed him my military ID to which he replied, “Welcome home ma’am” and made a comment about how my front license plate has my initials, EMB. I nodded and smiled to entertain his awkward observation. He handed me back my ID and after we parted Whitney sprang to life in the back declaring, “I love him!” I asked her why and she said that he waved to her as we drove away. I took the opportunity to clarify the difference between like and love. I told her she liked him for being polite and waving goodbye. “You love someone you trust and care about very much” I explained. She lit up with a broad smile (from what I could see in my rearview), and said that she did like him. And so I began wondering if the little hate incidence we had on V-day was a kind of test of pairing words to different emotions. She’s just learning the difference, and I can’t take stalk in something she doesn’t understand. To sum up the like love hate talk, I reinforced with, “And Whitney, we only say hate for UofA and for Nazis. We never say we hate anyone, especially not to mommy, daddy, or Kennedy.”
“I love mommy, I love daddy, and I love Kennedy.”
A successful parent/child talk for the books.
Happiness is knowing that I am trying my best at everything. Shortly after Whitney was born I had a sudden realization knowing that someday she was going to tell me she hated me. Dread spread at the thought as I looked down at that beautiful, squishy, little squirt. And even though the words came much sooner than expected, I can say that I took it like a champ. I do the very best I can for my girls and I try to teach them good habits and morals. I have peace knowing that the words, “I hate you” are not uttered in my home and she did not learn that from me. My babies are a reflection of me, and I think they’re rock stars. So that makes me happy.
|My squishy little squirt, Whitney at 2 months old.|