When my brother and I were kids, my mom hated hearing us use any form of the verb “to suck.” Now that I’m a mom, I hate hearing my child use any form of the verb “to hate.” And yes, I see the contradiction in that last sentence, but let me explain. I really can’t stand to hear “hate” come out of my sweet boy’s mouth and it is really confusing me as to why it keeps happening for several reasons.
For one thing, we’ve been in a total love fest here lately with Harrison. He’s such a happy guy these days that he goes around flashing his dimples all the time and giving each and every one of us big squeezes and smooches that are all accompanied by the “mmmmmmmmwah” sound effects. All day long. He’s a lover, not a hater.
For another, I don’t get where he gets it. Yes, I know I wrote it in the sentence above (and in the text to a friend earlier today, but in my defense, that was in reference to my old school phone that never lets me see group messages and therefore keeps me stuck in the dark and pleading for a recap of convos all. the. time. first world problems, I know, but annoying nonetheless). But really? I hardly ever use the word “hate” and certainly not out loud. Do I catch myself about to say it? Sure. I’m a recovering cusser, so I catch myself about to say a lot of four letter words some days, but I really try not to use hate because it is awful hearing it repeated. Such a strong word and violent and just plain awful sounding to my shocked, parental ear.
In the classroom, I’ve got this covered. As a writing teacher, I use the phrase “that’s unfortunate” to replace “this sucks” when my students inevitably tell me that a project sucks or their work sucks or they hate something. I tell them unfortunate is a much longer, more impressive and descriptive word and that is why they should use it if they feel so strongly about something. I’ve said it enough times that I really do use the phrase more myself. So where is the 4yo getting “hate”? Because I can’t even tell you how many times Ben and I passed raised eyebrows back and forth as Harrison claimed to “hate” pig cards in his Angry Birds came and the food for snack and the temperature in the bathroom during bath (and so on) today. In typical first-born Type A fashion, we tried to squash it, telling him he couldn’t use such language and that it wasn’t kind and whatnot. But dang it, that H-word just kept popping out of his little mouth.
Did we make too big of a deal about it and now he’s just looking for reaction? Probably. But if I struggle to get college kids to make the switch in verbage, how do I get the preschooler to do it? Oh, no! Preschool! He’s totally going to start saying this at school now and his teachers are going to think we are hater parents who go around hating on all the hates! NO!!!!!! We give love here, folks. We do! Perhaps therein lies the answer to my little problem. Instead of Totally Freaking Out (PBS shout out!), maybe I just need to give HD more love than ever if he continues experimenting with this language. Because I see his head and his heart and I know they are capable of much more greatness than an ugly word like hate.