I'm dropping the twins off to Girl Scouts at the school when one of their teachers sees me. She's talking to the principal but hollers at me, “Hey, have you gotten my note?”
I've got the deer in headlights look as my brain sifts through paperwork I may have overseen, at a snail's pace. I don't think I've gotten a note. Have I checked the backpack myself? I can't remember.
I reply, “I don't think so.” She smiles and I come over to find out what I'm missing. As the principal and I exchange pleasantries she goes to get something. She comes back with a white heart that has been cut out the size of her hand. It's been folded in half and unstapled shut. She shows it to me.
On the inside it reads:
I hat you.
[My daughter's name]
I know it's something I'm going to have to deal with but in the moment, I erupt in laughter. I can't stop it. I keep apologizing because I think I'm tearing up; I'm laughing so hard. First of all, it says “hat” not “hate.” We'll have to get on her about that and not to sign her name to anything incriminating.
Anyway, we don't use the word hate and talk about that all the time. Hat on the other hand … just kidding! But it's in the shape of a heart! It was like she was psyching him out. “Oh, you think this is a love note but really, I HAT YOU! In the face!”
Obviously, this little boy ticked her off and she decided to share her feelings. I'm mentally making notes to talk about better ways to share our feelings, but in a way, I'm proud of her for standing up for herself. In that moment, I know this one will be okay. She's a character.
It helps that the teacher and principal also see the humor in the situation. However, I am concerned that the teacher says she sent a note home for me to sign. I'm more concerned about that than I am the note itself.
When I ask my daughter about it, she immediately puts both hands on me like she's bracing me for something bad. Then she hugs me and starts to get upset. I say I know about the note and we would talk about that, but I wanted to know what happened to the note from the teacher.
She explains that when I wasn't looking she slipped it out of her stack of papers and threw it in the recycling because she didn't want me to get mad. I take a moment to consider how hard the teenage years are going to be with this one. I calmly tell her that's not okay and that hiding things is the same as lying.
We have a heart-to-heart at home.
That's when I asked what provoked the note. She said the boy had been excluding her from another friend and some games for a while, and the other day, she accidentally hit him with her folder when she was turning around and he punched her in the stomach. She said it was dealt with, and I'm sure it was, but she apparently still had some feelings to share. Silly, girl, boys usually don't care about feelings, especially feelings a million hours after the event and in a handwritten note.
I told her no more notes and that if there's a problem in the future to use her words and use them in the moment.
I left it at that.
Hopefully she has learned not to put anything in writing and there are no more heart-shaped insults.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.