As I was sitting outside and eating my lunch at the local mall yesterday, I overheard a conversation between a mom and her early-teen (I would guess) daughter. Well, I’m not sure it was a conversation, as much as it was an encounter. Okay, conflict. Yes, I overheard a conflict between the mom and her kid.
The mom, like most moms are around here, was dressed with a casual style that showcased a certain taste for fashion without being over-the-top. She was wearing jeans, boots and a cool jacket (that I wanted to take from her and give to G – a jacket enthusiast!). The daughter was dressed similarly – cute without going all Britney Spears, Paris Hilton or (insert your least favorite gossip media darling here). She looked like a good kid. Mom had clearly passed down some good genes and I’m guessing that dad was fairly hot, too. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
When I first sat down, I couldn’t help but notice how they both seemed to be enjoying themselves. Although they appeared to be having a spirited exchange, it didn’t seem as though they were upset with one another. They were calm – just excited to be sharing whatever it was they were telling each other.
As they got up to leave, the daughter said, “And Julie will be there, too, so it should be okay, right?” When mom replied with, “Well, I’m still not sure it’s the best idea. We’ve talked about this and until that grade comes up…” Before she could finish – that’s pretty much when all hell broke loose. The daughter went insane.
“I can’t believe we’re having this (expletive) conversation again!” (Remember, early teens.)
Mom stayed calm, which I thought was pretty amazing. She didn’t even raise her voice (which may have simply been the result of not wanting to make what was now a very public situation worse). “Jillian, I know you’ve been working incredibly hard. I appreciate that you’ve been studying, and your dad and I have noticed your dedication to your schoolwork. You’re almost there. And…” She was cut off again.
“But I still can’t (same expletive) go. Sometimes I just hate you and dad.”
At that point, all eyes were trained on this poor mom who, despite her calm, was likely ready to lose it. Since I had only paid for a sandwich and not some kind of dinner and a show, I decided to take my eyes (and body) away from the situation. But, I was heartbroken for the mom.
The other day, K-Man said, “I hit you, Daddy.” He was kidding, as he knows hitting Daddy (or anyone for that matter) is not a good idea. But, I swear I thought I heard him say, “I hate you, Daddy.” My heart sank. I had a measurable physical reaction to this. I was absolutely crushed. I quickly asked him again what he said. When I figured out that he said “hit” and not “hate,” I was so relieved that I almost invited him to hit me.
I know the day will come when K-Man hates me – warranted or not. I’ll make some decision, or say something that simply doesn’t line up with his sense of right, or fair. In a way, it happens now. Only instead of K-Man telling me that he hates me, he simply says, “No! Boom!” (I’m not sure where he got this phrase, but it means that he doesn’t want to do whatever it is I have planned. It’s kind of funny.)
I have a friend who – not joking at all – says that he doesn’t like his kids anymore (they are 19 and 16). He truly doesn’t like them (though, yes…he loves them). I cannot even fathom this. I can’t imagine not liking my kid. And, he says, his kids don’t like him either. How the hell does that happen?
I know that parents joke about the fact that their kids will hate them someday. We laugh about it. “Don’t worry – someday, she’ll hate you.” Truthfully, though, none of us ever wants to be told that our kid hates us. I know I can’t always be the good guy, but damn, I hope I’m never sitting in a mall with K-Man telling me he hates me.
I better make sure he gets good grades.