I Hate You!

I came home amidst a whirlwind of drama.  My oldest upstairs in his room crying with the door shut.  My youngest running to me to try to tell me what his brother had done.  My au pair telling me she was handling it.

Since I had not even had the chance to take off my damn heels, I decided to let her deal with it.  Besides, nothing was broken or bleeding, so it didn’t seem to be a huge emergency.

Once I desuitified and adorned myself with my home uniform, consisting of sweats and a t-shirt, I came downstairs to a quiet house, and began to make dinner.  My 5 year old then came into the kitchen to give me an updated report.

“(My brother) said, ‘I mmmm you!’  It was a bad word that I can’t say, mommy, but it starts with an H.”

“Hate?  He said ‘I HATE you?'”

“Yes.  And then he said that he wished that he had a different brother than me.”

Oh boy.

This was bigger than I had previously realized.  I knew that although the initial drama had been handled by the au pair, this was significant enough that I was going to have to address it myself as well.

At dinner, I told my oldest son that we were going to talk later, assuring him that he wasn’t in trouble or anything (he had since apologized to his brother as requested), but that there was just something that we needed to discuss.

“Is it serious?” he asked.

Realizing that the last time his father and I told him we needed to talk about something, a mere 4 days prior, we broke the news to him that our beloved dog had died.  Seeing the look of apprehension in his eyes as he asked me about the seriousness of the upcoming topic, I assured him that it wasn’t anything too serious, but just something that he and I needed to have a chat about.

Later in the evening, once my youngest was in bed and some TV had been dutifully watched, it was almost time for bed for my oldest son, but that’s when he reminded me about the talk.  Apparently, after 7:00 at night, my brain pretty much shuts down for the day.  I had completely forgotten about this promised discussion.  He, evidently, had not.

I had no script for this moment, never envisioning that I would have to deal with this issue prior to the teenaged years.  But shit happens, and deal with it I must.  So, I dove in.

But as I started to talk, I found myself getting choked up.  I was having a hard time speaking to him calmly and reasonably, while at the same time trying not to start crying.  I was not expecting that, either.

I told him that no matter how angry or upset he was, that it was never okay to tell a family member that he hates them.  That he can not like what somebody is doing, but hating family is not acceptable.  That not only is it hurtful and untrue, it is dangerous.

And then I hit him with the big guns . . . and also really started to tear up.

“What if your grandfather (who lives with us downstairs), did something that you really didn’t like and you got really angry?  And you said, “I hate you!” to him.  And what if right after that he got really sick and had to go to the hospital.*  And that ended up being the last thing you said to him?  How bad would that be?”

At this point, I noticed that not only was I barely able to get the words out around the tears that were closing up my throat, but he was starting to cry as well.

But I wasn’t finished.  And I couldn’t let his tears dissuade me from my objective.  So, I went in for the kill.

“When grandma passed away a couple of years ago, how horrible would it have been if those were the last words she heard from a family member?  And if you got mad at me or your dad or your brother, and then something bad happened to us right after . . . would that be the last thing you would want us to hear you say?”

I know.  I know, I know, I know.  This was possibly harsher and more terrifying than I needed to make this conversation.  Especially to an eight year old.  And by the end of it, both of us had tears flowing down our faces.  Him, probably more because I was crying than anything, and me because the thought of any of those scenarios makes me unbearably sad.  So, I hugged him and held him tight.  And I told him how much I loved him and that everything was alright and that everyone in the family is fine, and nobody is going to get hurt.  We both knew that last part was a lie, but eventually we both stopped crying.  I might have had to employ The Tickle Monster to get his tears to dry.  It is an exceptionally effective tear dryer and I would highly recommend it.

Even though I might be seen as a mean mom, who scarred her poor child for life with my horror story of family members dying, I have no qualms about what I did.  My hope is that I did both scare AND scar him.  I hope that he always remembers how harsh and frightening this discussion was, and understands the power of words.  I hope he thinks about the effect words can have before the next time he wants to tell one of us that he hates us.  I wielded mine as a weapon with intent, and believe I struck my target.  I hope that prevents him from unintentionally hurling hurtful words at those he loves in the future.  Hopefully, he is young enough for it to have hit home and stuck with him.  

And hopefully, I’ve disarmed one teenaged grenade that was heading my way in a few years.

* This conversation happened prior to this occuring.  I have never wanted to be less presentient in my life.

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brown Road Chronicles
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 09:11:20

    Been there…

    I think you handled that perfectly, especially in this day and age when we seem to be more surrounded by words than ever, both verbally AND electronically.


    • mistyslaws
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 13:34:23

      That’s a good point, I wasn’t even thinking about the eventual written word, that is oh so dangerous once it is released. Spoken words can be denied and forgotten. The written word is forever.


  2. donofalltrades
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 10:09:09

    I’ve never met a person who has an au pair that i didn’t ha…um want to punch in the genitals until you, ma’am! Kudos for that!

    I think you handled it just fine, even though, yes, it was harsh. I was wondering if this was after the C word situation, so thanks for the clarification. It would have been really harsh had it been after…


    • mistyslaws
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 13:35:23

      Well, don’t get ahead of yourself changing your mind just yet. You haven’t MET my au pair. O.o

      Yeah, I said it before, but wrote it after. It was incredibly bad timing. 😦


  3. PigLove
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 10:18:04

    sniffs – it was a hard conversation but it was granted my friend. Even from my little piggy perspective – it had to happen. XOXO – Bacon


  4. Nelson - One Old Sage
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 10:43:21

    You did good! A few tears are good for our soul. I’m sure he’ll remember the discussion.


  5. Don't Quote Lily
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 13:16:42

    I think you said exactly what you needed to, and he will surely never forget that lesson!


  6. bluzdude
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 13:40:34

    I think you did fine, and at a perfect time. At 8, he’s old enough to think about things, and is still suseptable to parental guidance. I think it will be tougher once he’s a teenager and has that filter installed that screens out anything from parents that might be helpful.


  7. pegoleg
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 17:47:01

    Powerful and perfect lesson that needed to be given to your dear son.

    My mom always said it was easier to go to the top of the tallest mountain, release a pillow full of feathers to the winds, then go down into the valleys and gather up every single one of those feathers again, than it is to recall hurtful words said in anger. That image has stuck with me all of my life.


    • mistyslaws
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 13:38:08

      Wow, that is indeed a powerful imagine. Hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna steal that one for the next time I need to have a chat with my kids.


  8. joannerambling
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 22:02:24

    Yeah I had chats with Kathy about saying things like that to Jessica, didn’t do any good though as she still would say mean and hurtful things to her sister.


  9. about100percent
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 22:05:08

    I think that you did the right thing; kids need to know the devastating effect of their words. It’s not always pretty, telling a child how words can hurt, but they must be taught, and taught often. I remember telling my eight year old that if he didn’t stop talking meanly to his sister, she wouldn’t love him anymore. He still remembers that conversation, four years later.


  10. hiddinsight
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 00:05:19

    You did a good job, Misty. Own it 🙂


  11. Vanessa-Jane Chapman
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 07:24:58

    Sometimes you have to be harsh to really drive the message home. I’ve had similar things with my kids where I’ve wondered if I went too far in making a point, but if the point is worth making then sugar-coating it is rather pointless because it won’t have the desired effect. My teenage daughter sometimes says some hurtful things to me and to her brother, but I understand being a 14 year old girl isn’t easy! And generally I find it’s best to let it pass, and usually later she apologises of her own accord which means more than me forcing her to say sorry. There was one occasion that we always laugh about where she was late leaving for school and was shouting at me and being all teenagery, and she stormed out of the front door up the path, I tried to call her back to give me a kiss and say goodbye first and she shouted “No I haven’t got time for this!” and as soon as she had said it, the strap on her school bag broke and her bag fell to the floor with everything spilling out, the timing was fantastic and we both just instantly laughed, and then were able to hug before she left because there’s nothing worse than leaving on a bad note is there!


  12. Valentine Logar
    Aug 14, 2013 @ 07:21:08

    Perfect lesson. Harsh, no I don’t think so, not at all. When my sons were growing up, “I hate you”, and, “Shut up”, were the two phrases I tried to keep out of their mouths. As a family we learned pretty terrible lessons about loss so the Hate lesson stuck, Shut Up, not so much.


  13. mamarific
    Aug 15, 2013 @ 20:46:03

    Oh, the I Hate Yous. They’re so much fun. I think you have a good point about choosing our words carefully, because we never know when it will be the last thing someone hears.


  14. JM Randolph
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 21:22:34

    You did great. I got all teared up reading it too!


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