Sunday, February 12, 2012

She Hates Me?

Meg told me she hated me.

She wanted some candy, and she wanted me to give it to her. She knew I had it, a half roll of Mentos right there in my purse, because I had already handed her several pieces while we were driving. However, because she had already had several pieces, and because we were driving home to make dinner, I had said no, she couldn't have any more. She tried to get more by adding a "please" but I said it wasn't an issue of saying please. She tried screaming, and I told her that definitely wasn't the way to get more candy. And then the words came out of her mouth: "I hate you, Mommy."

I have been insulted quite a bit in my life. I have had my feelings hurt a whole lot. However, I don't think I have ever felt the way I did when Meg said that. I felt cold. I was not only hurt, but also felt like a failure, and like I had been issued a challenge. My first thought was to pull over, yank Meg out of the car, and give her a time out. No, wait, that wasn't my first thought. My first real though was to burst into tears and admit I am a bad mother. Then I had the thought about the time out. Then I wondered if she actually does hate me, and how I could fix that. Then I thought about giving her some more candy. Then I went back to wanting to burst into tears. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Meg sitting smugly in her car seat. Her eyes met mine. She was grinning with my silence. I pulled the car over and turned around.
"Meg, you hurt my feelings," I said. I didn't really know where I was going, but that felt like the right tactic. Her face fell.
"Why," she asked.
"You said you hate me. I love you, so that hurts my feelings." I could see the wheels spinning.
"I love you, Mommy. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings."
"I love you too, Meggo. It's okay."
I would love to tell you that was the last time she has used that word. That since then she hasn't said it at all, realizing the power of words. That's not the case though. She is still experimenting with it, trying to see if the reaction gets bigger or smaller. She has also expanded her range. While I have been typing this I heard Meg tell her Dad she hates him because he turned off "Angelina Ballerina." He's now explaining to her what it means, and why it hurts. He's telling her we will always love her, even if she says she hates us.

I guess this is good practice for when she is 16. Of course, then she'll mean it...

I can only imagine how that will hurt.


Jill VT said...

That, of course, is the crux of parenthood: you pour your heart and soul into the little buggers, and that's what you get. My kids get a spray of vinegar in the mouth when they say it (mostly to each other); it's really the only word I can't abide.

Gina said...

Girls are tough. Not that boys don't say it - they do, but girls seem to know how to push those buttons. It's totally normal, you know she doesn't hate you, but it's hard to hear and deal with nonetheless. Just know you aren't alone.

Mandy_Fish said...

Oh my sweet holy hell. I have an eight-year-old son and he has never uttered those words to me. But I see my fiery 22-month-old daughter and totally know it's coming.

Hold me.

Kelly said...

I have always answered, "That's okay, hate me if you want to, but I will always love you."

Turn the guilt back onto them, little buggers.

The Twisted Tine said...

I can't imagine how that'd feel. Our five year old never quite got into using the word "hate", although his vocabulary is quite interesting regardless. Mostly, he'll scoff outwardly if he doesn't get what he wants, or plays the Woe-card.

That kid can turn on the waterworks in an instant.

Now that he's in Kindergarten, he is bringing home some new words that his mom and I kind of look at each other in an "errrr... that's not appropriate" kind of way.

We're really curious and terrified how the teenage years are going to go...

G said...

My kids (11 & 19) are still going through that phase and they say that they hate us a couple of times a week.

Ain't no big thing. We shrug it off and continue onwards.

Words only hurt if you let them.

erin said...

None of my kids have told me that they hate me...yet. Olivia once said, "HOLY COW MOM! YOUR BELLY IS SO FAT!". I'm not sure which is worse.

Vapid Vixen said...

Oh man! That's like a kick to the gut right there. With stilettos! While I was reading I was wondering how I would have handled it. Then I got to the part where you pulled over. I don't think there could have been a better response.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I remember being sixteen and saying those words. She won't mean it even then. Promise.

Anonymous said...

My oldest once said to me: "When you are old and in a wheelchair and your glasses fall on the floor, I won't pick them up."
I guess that was her roundabout way of saying she hated me at that moment. I think she was maybe 10 or 11 at the time. I think I wouldn't buy her some overpriced bauble at the mall.