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.