There’s a great scene from an episode of Louie, where his daughter tells him that she likes staying at her mom’s house better than his and proceeds to outline exactly why. Louie takes it all in stoically, says O.K. honey, that’s great or some such, calmly finishes brushing her hair, sends her out and then gives her the bird to her back.
Any parent can relate, or will be able to soon enough. Kids say some mean, really horrible, hurtful things because they have no sense of tact. This kind of unbridled honesty can work in your favor, like when Bub asks for one more song or kiss or story, you know it’s 100% genuine. But then this can also happen:
This morning, Bub and I are in the kitchen, getting his breakfast ready (mostly me). My wife comes in and says, “Good morning, Bub!” Nothing. So she adds, “I love you.”
“Bub, I said I love you. Can you tell Mommy you love her?” my wife says, trying to give him a hug.
“No! No love Mommy!” Bub says, rebuffing her. Ouch. Then, just to make sure he’s thoroughly destroyed her self-worth, he adds, “Mommy, move.”
Man, we should have stuck with the silence. It truly is golden sometimes.
Now, two logical notes about this exchange: 1) I don’t know where he got ‘Move’ exactly (probably me), but we are working on ‘Excuse me,’ so that one’s not even his fault. And 2) We DID introduce a concept as powerful and complex as love to a toddler. What did we expect?
Still, taken at face value, it stings. Yet this kind of thing is not uncommon; I’ve certainly had my fair share.
Out for a walk one day, I asked him if he wanted to hold Daddy’s hand. No, he said. Approximately three seconds later, he turned to my wife and said, “Mommy, hand?”
And the worst part is, as deep as the cuts may be, you just have to grin and bear it. You can’t take it personally. You can’t even show any emotion; you just take it on the chin like a parental punching bag, remind yourself they know not what they say.
We should appreciate it, actually. Someday, Bub is going to look me directly in the eyes and lie his butt off. And that’s going to be much harder to handle, I’m sure. So bring it on, Bub. We’ll take the good with the bad. We appreciate your honesty. No hard feelings. Yes, this IS tall man. You can see that? Yeah, daddy was just singing Where is Thumbkin. Silently. Go back to sleep now, buddy.