In the middle of an Age Three Tantrum a few days ago – the first day of our weeklong trip to Ohio – my son looked straight at me and yelled, “I don’t like you!”
Loudly, emphatically, over and over. As he thrashed around on my brother’s kitchen floor in the middle of my nieces’ birthday party.
Then he said it again yesterday.
Two different times.
I’m taking it in stride. After all, I’m forever on his case to use his words and tell me how he’s feeling. That it’s ok to be angry or frustrated or upset. So I can hardly blame him for feeling that way and then notifying me of it.
Plus, I knew it would happen eventually. Yes, I thought I had a little more time before he was old enough and smart enough to so expertly throw a dagger through my heart, but evidently I underestimated him.
The thing is, I always thought it would hurt. Like really, really hurt. I envisioned him saying something like this and me running to the bathroom to sob, broken-hearted.
In reality, it didn’t break my heart. It didn’t even make me particularly sad. Mostly, I understood how he felt. He wanted to run around like a wild animal and I said no. He wanted to be free to tear through the party, and I was forcing him to stop and take deep breaths.
So when he looked up at me from the tiled floor, tears soaking his beet-red face, and yelled, “I don’t like you!” over and over, I understood where it was coming from. I even felt sorry for him that he was so upset, bursting with such intensely negative emotion. My heart went out to him.
Then there was another teeny tiny part of me that got pissed off. Cuz oh really? You don’t like me? Why, because I’m stopping you from randomly shoving over that sweet little toddler over there? Cuz I’m not letting you destroy your cousin’s bedroom?
You don’t like me, huh? The one who is remaining calm and soothing and who is sitting with you in the middle of the floor, talking softly about how we just need to take a little break from all the stimulation while YOU thrash this way and that way like a crazed animal?
So instead of running off myself to hide and cry, I simply turned my head away from him and rolled my eyes.
To a certain degree, if your kids don’t dislike you now and then, you’re not doing it right, yeah? Plus, I figure this was a nice little warm-up to the next act: “I HATE you!”