my thoughts on being disliked

Last night, as I was trying to get Clementine to brush her teeth, after motioning for me to go away, she said, “Daddy, I don’t like you. I like Mama better.” It was said calmly and clearly. (I remember being kind of impressed at the time that she’d used the word “better.”) I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t hurt, but I was kind of expecting something like this to happen. I just wasn’t expecting to hear it so well verbalized and at such a young age. Anyway, I tried as best I could not to let it get to me and we went on about the bedtime ritual. I might have said, “That hurt Daddy’s feelings, Clementine,” but I didn’t dwell on it. I still told her that I loved her and kissed her, and all of her stuffed animals, goodnight. I did, however, bale out on Linette and her earlier than usual, to go downstairs and watch “Prison Break.” (I debated whether or not I should lie and say it was something better, but it was “Prison Break.”)

Well, apparently she picked up on the fact that I’d left early and connected it to her earlier comment. A few minutes after I left, I heard her feet on the staircase, and I heard Linette say to her, “You can go down. I’ll wait here.” Once she reached the bottom of the stairs, she poked her little head around the corner, saw me, and said, “I’m sorry, Daddy.” Then she scooted across the floor, gave me a big hug, and asked if I wanted to watch her spin around on her Sit-n-Spin (which I did).

Later, I found out that it wsn’t Linette’s idea either. She said that Clementine told her that she wanted to go downstairs and tell me that she was sorry. I thought that was pretty cool. (Although, now that I think about it, I suppose it could have all been part of an elaborate plan to squeeze a few more Sit-n-Spin rotations into the day.)

Anyway, I knew it was coming. I knew that one day she’d say something like that. I just wasn’t expecting for it to end so sweetly… She’s got a temper, but she’s a good, sensitive kid, and I couldn’t be happier with her.

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15 Comments

  1. UBU
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I think the fact that she likes Linette better than you proves that she is quite intelligent…

  2. mike_1630
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I loved this post – that’s all I have to say :)

  3. dorothy
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    every one of my four children have said that to me or some variation thereof. it means nothing! i remember saying it to my mother back in the day. it has more to do with a momentary snit than with true feeling. don’t worry—she loves you beyond reason. you’ll find that out before long. it’s part of being a toddler.

  4. ingrid
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Mark,
    I’ve been a parent of one sort or another for 17 years. I’m sorry to say that I believe that it was the sit and spin time that Clementine was after with her apology. But at least it wasn’t a Twinkie!

  5. gurg
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with her. I like Linette better, too.

  6. egpenet
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, too.

  7. ChelseaL
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    In all seriousness, Mark, just in case you didn’t know: children that age (even frighteningly bright ones, like Clem) say all kinds of things, whether they’re just trying on attitudes or don’t have the sophistication to express their ideas. Language itself is a relatively new thing for them.

  8. ChelseaL
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Actually, it occurs to me that Clementine may be *very* sophisticated, as she felt remorse on her own. I believe I was a year older and had to be told I had made an insensitive remark before I got that concept.

  9. cswilba
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    At least you got an apology (Sit-n-Spin motivated or not). Sam still pulls out the whole I don’t like you every once in a while to which I always reply, “that’s too bad, I like you.” then sometimes he just continues what he was doing & other times he makes a low grunting noise, shrugs his shoulders and walks away…

  10. Shanster
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I used to feel bad when my daughter said “I want mama” instead of me, until I found that when she was with mama she would say “I want papa”. Kids are the center of their own universe, especially we sibling-free ones, so they can do and say whatever they like because you are just a satellite. You sound like a good dad to me, and I like you about as much as I like Linette.

  11. schutzman
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Mark, I don

  12. murph
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I suspect this post to be complete fiction, intended to press Mark’s readers’ “aww, so cute!” buttons and make them want to have more kids. When intellectual , game theoretic appeals didn’t work, he decided to go straight for the heartstrings.

    Very clever, Mark. Very clever, indeed.

  13. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Damn. I like you better than I like myself. Still, how would you feel if she said that she liked you better? Would you have told Linette?

    Love would be bland without its painful side.

  14. ol' e cross
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Of course, you’ve got to face the possibility that Clementine really does love her mommy more and her early sophistication has led her to the advanced social skill of lying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

    I suggest testing this hypothesis by putting on your most unflattering trousers and asking her how they look.

  15. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    As she’s so advanced, perhaps you could just sit her down and reason with her. Just explain to her why it is that she should love you more than Linette. Maybe do it as a Powerpoint presentation.

    “Why I Deserve Your Love More Than Your Mother.”

    Slide 1: She stopped breastfeeding you… I asked her not to, but she did.

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