The Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Father Son

The sting was more than I had I anticipated. I knew this day would come but not this soon. Not now. It seems like just yesterday when we were playing outside in the snow, running, laughing and loving each other’s company. Actually, that was, literally, just yesterday. How did we get from that to this…

“I Hate My Daddy and We’re Not Friends Anymore!”

Of course, I played it totally cool the moment it happened even though my ears and my heart were burning up. All he had to do was say he was sorry to his little sister, who he had just shoved in a fit of anger. It seemed like a reasonable enough request as far as I was concerned, but his refusal landed him in his room for timeout.

Four. That’s how old my precious little bundle of joy is. Four years is all it took for him to go from falling asleep in his rice cereal to figuring out the keys to victory in a showdown with his old man.

Four. That’s how many minutes his timeout would last, unless he was willing to come out and apologize; which he was not.

Four. That’s the amount of minutes I had to sit outside his door and think about a life where my son hated me. It felt like 4 years and I almost caved a number of times but managed to stand my ground.

Where did he even learn that word? It’s not like he knows what it means; at least not in its truest form. We also try not to use any of the no-no words in our house. You know the ones: stupid, jerk, loser, hate, Caillou; see George Carlin for the rest.

He’s bound to hear them all at some point or another. If it wasn’t from me, it was going to be at school or on television, where even toddler programs seem to be pushing the envelope for reasons I can’t explain (I’m looking at you, Arthur).

We sat and talked after the timeout fiasco. We talked about why we should never use that word and how much it can hurt other people. I don’t know if he understood the conversation but he nodded along and then apologized for saying it and for hitting his sister. Oddly enough, I may have been the one who learned the biggest lesson out of all of this. No matter how hard we try to shield our children from the bad things in this world, they are eventually going to find them, so it’s best to be mentally ready for these situations well ahead of time. So far, the only true method I have found to be effective is love, patience and understanding, which I hope rubs off on my kids as they grow older and wiser.

I’m also happy to report that after our chat, my son let me know that we can be friends again, which is all this Dad really needed to hear.

Have your kids told you that they hate you before? If so, what age were they?