For the time being:
I can’t believe she said it. Yes, she was coming down from a dose of
ibuprofen and clearly exhausted.
Running a fever with a plugged-up nose does things to people, even
adults, and she’s only four.
She is sobbing, almost uncontrollably, on the rug in front of me. I am
feeling annoyed. I’m locked-down holding her also-sick, 18-month-old
brother. He just fell asleep. I tell her to quiet down, or go somewhere
else. She walks away, and then out of my sight she says, “I hate you!”
She then tries it out a couple more times in different sentences, “I
hate my mom,” “I hate her.”
Her voice disappears down the hallway. She didn’t see my eyes shift,
once left then right, contemplating her nerve.
I say nothing.
It is quiet.
At one time:
No one said that word in our house until now, unless it was about
cruddy fingernails, cold toes in your face, or dried bits of food
stuck on the inside of your cup.
She’s asking me to hook up the Wii. I say, “You just told me you hate
me.” Her face retracts, retorts, contracts, compacts. She manages to
say, “But I don’t hate you–I love you! If I hated you– you would hate
She’s crying on the ground.
I say flatly, “No, I’d still love you.”
She starts to drift off in the afternoon air, rolling around slightly
to the left, to the right.
She lays herself half sitting-up on the couch next to me sucking on an
unopened soda pop. She asks me if giants are real, because her body feels
like giants are real. And, is there a time machine that makes you get
I say simply “no,” but with an uncertain tone.
Ahead of time:
What I do know: She is real. She is only getting bigger with time. And,
she doesn’t hate me.