Mark down yesterday as the first time my daughter said “I hate you” to me. But both and wife and I were glad she did. True. And I kind of earned it. I’ll explain.
First, my wife is the better parent, as if that needs explaining to anyone reading this blog. She’s up on the parent mags and is loving and caring. I stumble through life and wing it, happy to wake up each morning, which is an instant win in my mind.
And then there is our talented and smart 9 year-old daughter going through a transitional stage and testing the borders of the soon to be teenage years. And though we think our daughter is special, as all parents do of their children, I worry that she lives too comfortable of an existence.
My wife and I are not rich. We both work. Our house is less than 1,900 sq ft, which gives me house envy here in Los Angeles. And as an only child, our daughter gets all of our attention and lives a good life. And though her hardship and defining moment may come at anytime when my lungs fail or I get hit by a moon rock, she leans toward not wanting to break out of her comfort zone, and is a little on the shy side, especially with adults.
That’s where I come in. I’m Mr. Discomfort and my picture should be on a bottle with a really long legal disclaimer, a number for the local poison-control hotline, and the warning: “May cause irritation.”
It’s my job to shake things up when life stagnates.
I get bothered when my daughter holds her feelings in and doesn’t participate in discussions. So, rather than have the silent young lady at the table sitting it out while life goes by, I push and prod until we have a mild conflict going that leads to emotion and the flexing and testing of communication skills. And most importantly in the end: growth.
So, when the young firecracker’s fuse ran out and she asked us if it was okay to speak exactly what was on her mind, we gave her the green light. We had plenty of burn cream in the kitchen.
And when she said “I really, really hate you right now” I was okay with that. It was a breakthrough of her not holding in her emotions and expressing herself. And more importantly, it resulted in her gaining the confidence to take singing and karate lessons, which is what the conversation was about in the first place – her not trying new things in life and ending up sad about it later as an adult.
When opportunities present themselves, we said, take advantage. Or, the moment may be lost and you’ll regret it.
To my daughter’s credit, she got it. And soon she’ll be kicking the daylights out of a karate bag and singing Lady Gaga songs.
The most touching moment came later that night outside when she asked me if I loved her. Yes, I do love you, I said.
Even though I said I hated you?
Yes, I said. Always. No matter what.
And the night was magical and mile 9 of the marathon continued with me skirting the fine line of “near-disaster” parenting, proving once again, even numskulls get lucky once in awhile.