When our twin girls were born, and I was in that sleep deprived, giddy bliss of new motherhood, a friend laughed and said, “Yeah, they are cute now. Just wait until they are teens yelling I HATE YOU. We’ll see how happy you are then.”
Those words have stuck in my head. I know the day is coming when our darling daughters do hate me for something. I figure it’s practically my job to do something that makes them really, really mad. I’m their mother after all. It’s my duty to do what we think is best for them, whether they like it or not.
When I was offered a review copy of The Day Leo Said, “I Hate You!” (Little, Brown) by renowned author Robie H. Harris, I jumped at it. I liked the pitch about how Leo’s mom turned a bad situation into a teaching moment. It’s something all parents try to do, so a book that supports that idea interested me.
When the book arrived, it sat on our couch for a few days. The girls were anxious to read it. The title was like a magnet for them. They talked about the title all the time. What happened after Leo said I hate you? Did he go on time out? Was he grounded? What could Mommy have done to make him say something so terrible? They fingered it daily, begging to read it. The problem was that I hadn’t read it yet, and I don’t let them read books I haven’t read. It’s not a long book; it was just bad timing.
When I finally did read the book, I found it charming. One of the things I always tell our girls is “no matter what, I’ll always be your Mommy.” It’s a message found in this book, too. Leo gets really mad and yells, “I hate you!” Still, his mother reacts with kindness and strength. No matter what he says, she’s still his mother and she loves him.
I was surprised when our girls started crying while reading the book. They both said, “I’ll never tell you I hate you, Mom. You’re my Mommy and I love you.” I said, “You better not. I’m your Mommy and I do love you, but if you ever say that to me, you’ll be on time out for a long, long, long, long time.” This made them laugh for some reason.
I hope when our girls are mad enough to yell something hurtful at me I react with kindness and strength. Just in case, I better keep “The Day Leo Said I Hate You” around as a reminder that words can hurt, but they can also heal.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Day Leo Said I Hate You. The story and opinions are strictly my own words.
Shari blogs about her darling twin daughters and their crazy dog at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of Little, Brown.