I had a long talk with her about the word “hate,” which she must have picked up in daycare. One day she suddenly was saying things like, “Rain! I hate the rain!” or, “I hate soup!” or the worst, “I hate you!”
After two days of gently trying to convince her that she didn’t actually hate these things, I sat her down before bedtime and explained the word “hate” to her.
I said, “Celia, you need to know that the word ‘hate’ is a very strong word, and Mommy and Daddy don’t use it very much at all. It means you really don’t like something a lot.”
Celia was quiet, so I went on, “There are only a few things in this whole world that I would say that I hate. I hate it when people do bad things, or when I do things that I wish I hadn’t. I hate that. And I hate being stuck in traffic.”
Michelle said, “I hate looking for parking.”
Celia tried her hand at it, “Mommy hate sheets!”
“No,” I laughed, “Mommy doesn’t hate sheets. Mommy loves clean sheets. That’s one of her favorite things!”
“Mommy love sheets!” Celia said.
“That’s right,” I said, and gave her a hug.
That was a couple of weeks ago, and the last time we heard her use that powerful emotional word. I think of these things now, because yesterday she declared another surprisingly powerful statement. As I was putting her down for a nap, I gave her a kiss and said, “I love you Sweetheart. Sleep well, and have good dreams.”
As I was just about to close her bedroom door she said, “Daddy?”
“Yes, Sweetie?” I peered through the door and saw her sitting up in her crib.
“I love you, Daddy.”
I grinned from ear to ear. My heart bubbled up and overflowed with emotional gravy. All sorts of good feelings oozed out of me, and I paused to look her in the eye. “I love you too, Sweetie. Now get some rest.”
With a spring in my step, I left her room and took on the rest of my day with a spirit of generosity and goodness. It’s amazing, the power of words. And I am so appreciative that Celia is receptive to saying some darn good ones.