If you’re totally shocked by the title of this piece, you either don’t have children yet or didn’t have a childhood.
For God’s sake, every child says those three words in that particular order at some point between age 3 and 53. Before 3, they’re just about learning to say ‘hate’ and after 53 the parents are mostly dead.
The first time my daughter, who is now at the ripe old age of 5, said ‘I hate you,’ it totally broke my heart. I felt I had let her and myself down with my upbringing. I felt I was failing in my role as the caregiver, the nurturer, the person responsible for her bright future. I was so obsessed with making things work with her, that the whole 8 hours I was at work I was designing strategies to win her trust back. When all else failed, I called my mother for advice – she did after all have the experience of raising two girls - that’s twice the number of kids I have, ergo, twice the experience; so what if only one of them is super smart and awesome! But like all mothers, she started recounting the times I had said that to her, how she never took that seriously because she knows I love her, and always will and other such usual mom wisdom. I hung up the phone, “Thanks Ma, I love you!”
But I wasn’t going to let this defining moment in my relationship with my daughter pass by. I couldn’t just ignore the elephant in the room; the emotion in the word ‘hate’ is too strong to disregard. I made a very strong strategy to resolve our conflict. It’s a whole another story that she showed no signs of recollection of ever having said those three words, when I picked her up from pre-school. This ‘life-changing’ incident took place when she was 4, and when I wasn’t as experienced as I am today. First time parents take everything seriously!
The strategy I used was, to arrive at 6:00 PM to pick her up from pre-school, instead of at 5: 45, like I did every day. Coming to think of it, it would have made more sense to arrive early and tell her who the boss was, instead of arriving at closure, because that’s what she wanted in the first place, and the reason why ‘she hated me’ – because I picked her up before her best friend was picked up by her guilty mom- at 1800 hours.
In any case, I have grown more immune, to hearing those three words, knowing I am not alone in evoking such passionate feelings from my kindergartener. I would have wished to become wiser, but then again this is my learning phase - I’ll have enough words of wisdom, when she calls me for help with her 5-year-old. That’ll be my “Aha! Serves you right!” moment.
Here are reasons you should expect your kid to say ‘I hate you’ – in case you have an under 5, this may just be your bible.
1. You ask her to brush her teeth.
Why would you? How can you be so insensitive as to not let her play with her markers and crayons all day long? Why would you take the fun away from her just because you can’t bear the stench coming out of her mouth? She has no problem with it, you heartless above-3-feet-person!
2. When you walk away from her when she doesn’t brush.
Why wouldn’t you sit with your child when she is pursuing her passion of coloring the sheets of paper and threads of carpet? She wants you to see all the curvy ‘straight lines’ she draws and laughs with a stinky mouth. But you are just too narrow-minded to in this case, narrow-nosed to let the stench pass by.
3. When you ask her to take a bath.
She loves the filth, the muddy stains on her clothes, the grass blades spiking all over her hair. And the heartless person that you are, you ask her to wash her hands? Worse, take a bath before she can eat anything? Do you want her to starve? Notice the brewing drama.
4. When you tell her, her playdate is canceled.
Even if it was canceled because her date fell sick and her mom didn’t want to spread the virus. The phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger” doesn’t make any sense to kids. You said she wouldn’t be able to have the playdate today, which can only mean that, you caused it. You don’t want her to have fun, you’d much rather have her stay close to your hip all day, ask you a million questions, ‘help’ you with cooking and re-clean the mess she’s cleaned up.
5. When you throw her art away because it was lying near the trash, and you know, you thought it was trash.
My daughter makes an average of 7 pieces of art every day, yes that’s the mean, and I’ve done my math. Some she loves and keeps them close to the trash, some she discards away and throws into the trash, because it’s not pretty. I’ve tried really hard to figure out which is which, but because her aim isn’t that great yet, I find it hard to take the trash out. But then again, why should trash be taken out?
6. You watch real people on TV.
Why can’t Dora play all day? Why won’t you love Arthur as much as she loves him? Why do you have to see boring grownups and their obnoxious kids on TV? Are you a masochist? It could very well be that you are a sadist and find it relieving to see that the parents on TV have it worse than you do, but then again, why can’t you just watch Barney and torture yourself?
7. You didn’t make mac-n-cheese today.
What are these green yucky things you call vegetables? Why are they good for health? How come they taste so yucky if they’re good for health, and how come food that tastes so yummy is bad for you? Why do you ration Cola and chips? How can you be so cruel?
8. You only bought a present for her friend, not for her, even though it’s not her birthday.
The rule is, when you go to the toy store, and if you make the mistake of taking your kid along, you need to buy one for her too. After all, the toy store will struggle, if you didn’t buy the fifth box of the toy that she already has and you’ve never seen her playing with at home. How could you?
The thing is, my daughter does say ‘I hate you’ now and then. Sometimes I let her be and it takes a minute of silence to convince my extremely extraverted child to realize she’s hurt my feelings; and sometimes I react and ask her to go to her room to ‘think about what she’s done.’ I don’t know if she thinks while playing with her princess castle, but she surely comes back down to apologize when she’s hungry. Like my progenitor said, I too know she doesn’t mean it, and I truly believe that I am doing my best for my offspring. After all, she does say “I love you” more than she says the other less-desirable, three words.
Oh and I forgot, does she use your laptop to ‘learn’ math, and does your work require extensive use of the keyboard? That’s an “I hate you” right there, waiting to happen!
Image Credit: Devianart