There are many moments that I dread. Like the day my toddler sister will go to pre-school and find out the other sisters there are cooler than me (check for another desperate post when she starts school next month); or the day she’ll come home with a homework I won’t be familiar with (I didn’t go to pre-school in the states) and find out I don’t have a clue; or the day she’ll start making new friends and hide stuff from me. Even the day she’ll be ashamed of my Brazilian accent the way I was ashamed of my mom’s a few years ago. But the day I dreaded the most came hitting me in the face today. My four-year-old sister said she hates me.
Cookie was mad either because playground time was cancelled today (she didn’t behave very well) or because I said she had to go to the other room if she wanted to watch cartoons. I’m not entirely sure. All I can remember is that out of a sudden she yelled, “I hate you!” The words came out of her mouth like explosives, like balls of fire coming in my direction to extinguish me. I honestly thought I had heard wrong, but then, as if making sure the soul would be wounded as well as the body, she confirmed “I really hate you!”. And I stared at her. I didn’t cry, didn’t yell back, and didn’t go through the emotional crap adults went through with me when I was the toddler in question. I stared at her and wondered what the hell I should do next. Should I expect her to understand how her statement had broken my heart into a million pieces, and how I had never, not in my worst nightmares, thought she would actually say such a thing? How I always thought our connection was beyond hating and all associate feelings? That I honestly hoped she would be the first teenager not to turn against her mother and, well, bigger sister? She’s not a teenager yet! She’s just learned to say she’s not in the “moon” for something.
But again, would it be better if she hid this from me? If she feels she hates me, don’t I want her to tell me, so we can work on the problem? Or do I want to find out years from now that she’s hated me all along? Or worst yet, do I want her to start distancing herself from me because we have an unresolved issue? So I did what any clueless, desperate older sister would do: I closed the door and wonder how we had gotten to this point. I do realize that she doesn’t hate me. She doesn’t even know what hate is (or so I hope). She also doesn’t realize the power that this word has. But it hurt, nonetheless.
In the middle of my meditation, Cookie walked to me with her blanket, like a puppy who realizes it has bitten the one who loves it. She cried and said she was sorry, that she hadn’t meant to say any of that. “I only said I hate you because you were mad at me, but I really love you, mana.” I explained to her that she had broken my heart, and asked her to never say that again. She promised, and asked me to never be mad again, and completed with “Don’t say your heart is broken, I don’t like it when you say that.” I looked at her and the pain was slightly forgotten. She was truly sorry, and I could see in her eyes how much she loved me. I promised to have more patience, and she promised to cooperate. All is well in the end … I just hope the damage will be this easy to repair next time.