The Thin Line Between Love and Hate


by Chris Read

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?

Of course, I played it totally cool the moment it happened even though my ears and my heart were burning up. All she had to do was say she was sorry to her brother, who she had just punched in a fit of anger. It seemed like a reasonable enough request as far as I was concerned, but her refusal landed her in her room for a time-out.

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

Six. That’s how many minutes her time-out would last, unless she was willing to come out and apologize; she was not.

Six. That’s the number of minutes I had to sit outside her door and think about a life in which my daughter hated me. It felt like six years and I almost caved a number of times, but I managed to stay firm.

Where did she even learn that word? It’s not like she 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, Caillou; see George Carlin for the rest.

We know the kids are 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 the Aardvark.)

We sat and talked after the time-out fiasco. We talked about why we should never use that word and how much it can hurt other people. I don’t know if she understood the conversation but she nodded along and then apologized for saying it and for hitting her brother. 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 responses I have found to be effective are love, patience and understanding, which I hope rub off on my kids as they grow older and wiser. I’m also happy to report that after our chat, my daughter let me know that we can be friends again, which is all this Dad really needed to hear.


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