I hate you.
I wasn't expecting the day to be today, and I wasn't expecting her to be the ripe age of 6 1/2. I certainly did expect those words to be hurled at me from the throws of prepubescence, and I was even more certain that they would pop up during some premenstrual debacle.
Those are words that I know well. Too well. I cannot tell you how many times those words were said to me in anger as a child. I think what hurt the most is when those words were handed to me with apathy.
Anna said that she hated me, then told me that everything was my fault... and after that I can honestly say that I don't remember much. I told her she was to stay in her room and not come out until it was clean and that I did not want to talk to her.
I went down stairs in a haze. I walked in circles until I was crushed under the pressure and weight of those 3 words. I cried. I can honestly say that it grieves me.
So I did what I always do when furious or hurt, I cleaned. After I worked offf a little grief I decided to google 'what to do when your 6 year old child says "I hate you"'. I read various sites that stated that at this age they are not aware of the meaning of those words and say them because they are angry, but don't mean them. Sure, I know that younger children say these things to their parents, and I know that hypothetically they don't mean it. You can't say that about Anna. She's very intelligent. Though I know she may not realize the consequences of this act I can tell you that she meant them with every fiber, even for a brief moment.
This site said:
The unanimous chorus from experts: Don't take it personally. Kids say these things when they're frustrated or angry. It doesn't mean you're a bad parent. Of course, distancing yourself when your kid seems to be dissing your mothering skills isn't easy, but letting your child think that you're all too happy to get rid of him -- or worse, that you hate him, too -- isn't okay. Since the under-9 set are literal thinkers, they won't detect the reverse psychology at work, and you might end up undermining your child's trust...
...Easier said than done, of course, but if you're upset, wait until you've calmed down to say anything. "When you get emotional, you lose 50 IQ points," says Ray Levy. "But later on you can say, 'It hurts my feelings when you tell me you hate me.' Usually when kids are calm, they're pretty remorseful."
Even though I agree with the last part of the statement above, I do not feel it is OK to "just let it go". Not at Anna's age anyway, no matter how literal she is she is also very logical and emotionally driven. I feel at this age is entirely appropriate for Anna to understand the kind of fallout that can occur in this situation. I sat at my computer thinking about what I would say to her. On one hand I could gloss it over " and not dwell on it, as the article above insinuates, as well as all of the other sites I visited. On another I could explain how horrendously this has affected me at the risk of making her feel guilty, in order for her to understand how devastating this can be for a loved one; and for her to understand that she must never do this again.
Then I read this blog post... THANK GOD. Finally something that addresses the state of the mature child and what it means to be 6 years old. Shauna, the blog author quotes from a book that helped her immensely :
The six-year-old is a complex child, entirely different from the five-year-old.Though many of the changes are for the good -- Six is growing more mature, more independent, more daring and adventurous -- this is not necessarily an easy time for the little girl or boy. Relationships with mothers are troubled -- most of the time Six adores mother, but whenever things go wrong, it's her fault. It used to be, at Five, that she was the center of the child's universe; now, the child is the center of his own universe.Yes, exactly. OK. I value my children's opinions. I expect them to be able to tell me what that think and feel. All I'm asking is for a little courtesy. I want so much for my kids to have what I didn't which is an opinion... but I need to be able to draw the line at hurt and disrespect , and I need to be able to tell them that it's not OK.
Anna eventually came downstairs about an hour after the incident and apologized for saying those words and that she didn't mean them anymore. I sat there with my mouth open for a moment, trying to compose my thoughts. She didn't mean it anymore.
I explained to her that it hurts me that she felt that way at all, even if it was just for a moment. I said that hate was a very strong word, and though I was glad she was sorry , it's hard to take that word back. I also said that hate is the strongest negative word you can say to someone you love, and when you say it- even though you will probably be sorry later- it stays with a person.
I explained that though I have been angry with her many times, I have never hated her and would never EVER say that to her. I explained that telling someone that you hate them and that you wish that they had never been born are the worst things yo could say to someone you love or care about. I told her that my mother told me those things more times than I can remember, and it still hurts to this day.
I explained that those words will stay with me and in my heart forever... and that the reason why I was telling her this was for her to understand and learn from this situation.
I want her to learn that it's NEVER OK to tell someone you hate them, especially not the people you love. That it's OK to tell me she is angry with me, and I will acknowledge her feelings. It's OK to express anger, hurt and frustration. I respect her as a person, I respect her feelings.
I explained all of this and the fact that those words were unacceptable. She sobbed on my shoulder. We hugged and I told her I loved her, and she held on to me for what seemed like dear life for over 10 minutes.
My heart hurts a little less and I am hoping that over time that abyss will close and heal itself to the tiniest of fractures.
I know the joys will out number the sorrows. I have faith that the brilliance of her love and understanding will fill those little cracks with so much light that they will be unseen to the naked eye. Hopefully no one will know they are there but me.