When we were growing up, my mom decided to bring a little extra money into the household by opening up a small daycare.  Us kids were just about tweens by then, so our old toys were the perfect enticement for other kids to destroy enjoy.  There was an eclectic mix of kids, some nice, some not-so-nice.  But us kids managed to survive.

One of the most memorable of those kids was the one and only infant my mom agreed to take on.  Tracy was a delightful baby, always happy, and as she started getting older, she only got nicer, if that’s possible.  With her, apparently it was.  She got her niceness from her mom – a wonderful person, always thinking of others so it was no surprise that she was a nurse at the hospital.  Her hours could be crazy sometimes, and since she was a single mom, was grateful that even when my mom discontinued her daycare, she agreed to continue to babysit Tracy.

Tracy was like a baby sister to us kids, and even though she was 12 years younger than me, she was nice, so we had no issue with her invading our rooms or playing with our toys.  Because she was nice.  Her mom eventually met a man who would become Tracy’s step-dad, complete with step-siblings, so her days of hanging out at our house soon came to an end.  We still kept in touch, though, and when I moved out at 19 and got my own apartment, I would offer to babysit Tracy on some of the weekends her step-siblings were at their mom’s house, so Tracy’s mom and step-dad would get some alone time.

When I picked her up at her parents house one weekend when she was still 7 years old, no sooner had she gotten in my car she blurted out:  “I really hate this girl in my class because she’s always mean to me.”  My immediate response was:  “Hate is a really strong word…”   Withouth missing a beat, she responded:  “OK, I strongly dislike her…a lot.”

Now that Princess Nagger is fast approaching that 7 year old age, I’m often reminded of Tracy in the basic nature of ‘nice’ and the quick thinking mode.  She’s been complaining lately about a boy in her class who apparently annoyed her in Kindergarten and since the school assigns the kids to random classes each year they advance, she only has two of the original kids in her class this year.  One of them happens to be the boy that annoyed her in Kindergarten.  As luck would have it, her teacher assigned him to the seat right next to her.

Princess Nagger and I have talked often about ‘why’ he annoys her, but she could never really come up with a good enough reason why, except that he accidentally steps on the back of her shoe when they’re in line going somewhere which makes her trip out of her shoe, and he sat directly in front of her on the floor during reading hour in Kindergarten – he’s taller than her, so he’d always block her view. 

And she said she hated that. 

I explained to her that ‘hate’ is a strong word, and if she doesn’t like something she can always move or ask to be moved, and told her she should speak up or no one would know.

Well, she apparently ‘spoke up’ yesterday.

She had been increasingly irritated that the teacher would always partner her up with this boy, and he annoyed her.  I told her to speak up and if she’s so annoyed, talk to the teacher and ask if she could be partnered with someone else.  Yesterday she apparently had enough, so when she got paired up with him yet again, she said something.  Not to the teacher, but directly to the boy.  No, she didn’t tell him she hated him, but she did tell him she didn’t like him.  Which, to a six-year old, is pretty much the same thing.

Of course the poor boy’s feelings were hurt, Princess Nagger got in trouble, and the teacher sat her down and explained what she did was wrong. The teacher had her apologize to the boy and write him a note of apology, too:

The teacher added her own note of explanation, and I thought she handled the situation very well.

I knew something was up when Princess Nagger got off the bus, because when I asked if she had a good day, instead of the usual ‘Great!’ response, she expelled a heavy sigh and said “No, not really.”  She explained what she did before I even read the note, so we had a nice discussion about saying things that will hurt other people’s feelings.  I asked her how she would feel if someone had said that to her, and of course she said she wouldn’t like it.  Her actual response was:  “It would hurt my feelings and make me sad if someone said they didn’t like me.”

At least I can be relieved that she didn’t use the word hate, so she apparently took the previous discussions to heart and remembered that it is a strong word.  Let’s hope when she reaches her tweens and teens she still remembers that, as I’m sure I’ll be in for the foot-stomping, door slamming reactions to something I say – immediately preceded by those strong, hair raising words of “I hate you!”   ‘Hate’ really is a strong word.
This post was brought to you by the Spin Cycle… Stop on over to see Jen, the brilliant mind that is the adorable Sprite’s Keeper and the keeper of the spins… You sure won’t hate her or her spinning friends!  

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  1. We just got a new intern in our office, and she annoys the crap out of me! She seriously has no filter and has diarrhea of the mouth.

    Maybe I should write her a letter.

  2. I agree with the word "hate" it is really a stronge word to use. I like the way the teacher handled it.

  3. What a wonderful post. I feel for PN, it is such a difficult situation even for adults to be faced with someone who just annoys us. The teacher handled it well.

    Tara has people in her classes from time to time like this, and like PN, when she would have taken all she could and finally said something, it seemed she would be the one to get in trouble. I think those whose nature it is to annoy, do it so subtly that only the focus of their annoyment (new word) knows it is happening. It seemed to get worse as they got to be tweens. One of the reasons I made the decision to use virtual school. The people drama is such a distraction to Tara who tries her hardest to always be that nice, caring, go out of her way for others person, follow the rules kinds of person. It seems the annoyers (in some cases bullies) seek out those as their targets.

  4. The teacher was right to have her appologize but she should have also asked why Princess Nagger didn't like the boy and maybe the teacher wouldn't pair them up so much.

    Good post.

  5. I say hate about 1000 times a day, but it is never directed at people!

    I probably would have gotten smacked if I said it when I was a kid!

  6. yeah, hate's a strong word but so're some feelings. i never expect my kids to edit what they say and if they tell me they hate me, i tell them that's how i know im doing my job ;).

  7. There are so many people that I hate, I mean dislike, no what I mean is that they really rile me…

    …Am I not learning the lesson?

    Seriously, that little story reminds me of me, not that I'm really comparing, in a way I was a nightmare! I'm (believe it or not) a naturally placid, calm type, but also quite OCD – and linked to that (I guess) quite neat, mathematical, ordered etc. As a kid I used to 'hate' anything that was unordered, untidy, dirty, messy etc. Kids that were late to school irritated me. Kids that didn't keep there fingernails short and clean irritated me. In fact, I was very easily irritated!!! I'm much better now. I think.

  8. Handled like a true professional.

    "Hate" is a strong word; can't honestly say I "hate" anyone or anything…there are things/people I strongly dislike.

  9. I read what happened to PN at school and I have somewhat of a difference of opinion on how it was handled. I hope you don't mind my candidness. PN was expressing her feelings the best she knew how to let Dylan know she did not appreciate him doing those things to her (whatever they may have been). Saying "I don't like you" was harsh so I do agree that her writing an apology letter was the right thing to do, BUT did Dylan apologize to PN for annoying her? Was he made aware that he should not purposely step on her heels or whatever else he was doing? You may have left that part out so forgive me if I don't have the full story. I feel that when two children are involved in a quarrel the there be fairness on both sides. Do you see where I am going with this. PN may still feel defeated, but Dylan doesn't and will continue to annoy her – maybe. Sorry, but I have a daughter and I have been through this and I feel that both children deserve a fair shake.

  10. Oh, poor Princess Nagger! I mean, yeah, no kid likes to hear that someone doesn't like them, but kudos for speaking up!
    I remember in sixth grade, when the hormones start spiking, a boy was told to move his assigned seat and before the teacher even told him where to go, he spoke up and said, "Just don't seat me next to Jenny R." That was me. My face flushed, the teacher said, "then that's exactly who you will sit next to", and tormented BOTH of us. I hated that kid for saying it. Okay, in a sixth grader's world, hate is everyday language. But when we got to high school, he came up to me in class one day and told me that he had actually had a crush on me SINCE sixth grade and now was asking me out. I told him I STILL hated him. And I did. Cuz in ninth grade, hate is still everyday language. 🙂
    But I LOVE this Spin! You're linked!

  11. Remember that once you were that age.. flirting at that age for a boy is antagonizing the girl he really is attracted to! Before puberty, we are stirred by emotions we don't understand..we are attracted, don't know why, and deal with it in a juvenile way. In third grade, I took flute classes, only to be close to a girl- and had no clue why.. Later, when we were old enough to understand these things, we never got together- as social levels got in the way… She is just simply growing up- try to remember when you were here age..Growing up is really hard! I'm still trying to grow up!

  12. First of all, hats off to PN for handling things herself … even it if wasn't totally the right way. I'm sure she's learned a huge lesson and sometimes that is the way to go.

    And my son (about the same age) didn't care for some children in his school for similar reasons — one girl said she didn't like his coloring, the other one always looked at him too much. We talked about how we're not going to like everyone all the time and to just do the best you can to get along. Kids at this age are so black and white about why they don't like someone.

    And I'm glad the teacher handled things the way she did … might be hope for her after all!!!

  13. I'll bet this all made a lasting impact on Princess Nagger. She's likely to really think it through next time.

    Score a point for the teacher in how she dealt with it. 🙂

  14. The teacher and you both handled things really well. It's too bad more kids don't have parents and teachers like that….maybe there'd be more civility in the world.

  15. You know, I find myself torn over this. While I certainly don't think kids should go around hurting each other's feelings, I'm not sure PN should be made to write that boy a letter saying he's nice. If she doesn't think he's nice, she shouldn't have to lie.

  16. I agree, we can dislike and feel uncomfortable around people but to use "hate" is too strong and hurtful. I'm also feeling mighty sorry for me today (crap weather, maybe?). wah.

  17. Wow – a very mature note from a very mature and well-brought up Princess Nagger. These are the lessons that form habits; and habits created during the primary school years are the ones that stick. Language choices and prejudices are two areas that are very tricky to change once you hit middle school. You are very wise to tackle this early. I agree that "hate" carries serious connotations that the speaker usually does not mean. Choosing one's words carefully is a habit that no one is too young to learn.

  18. I love her note 🙂 hate is a strong word but we all have to learn how to deal with it and with our feelings.

  19. A little late to the party I am. Just being fashionable.

    You really read my mind on this. I do loathe the word hate. It has such a finality to it. It is hard coming back when you are that far down the road.

    I find myself often explaining why we should not hate people and why. Sometimes I feel like I am wasting my time but I always keep hoping that someone will listen and spread the message.


  20. Stopping by from SITS

    Things like that happen all the time in class (I teach 3rd grade). LIttle children can be very dramatic lol. Your Princess Nagger sounds adorable.

  21. hate is a very strong word. good job mom helping her to see that. her note is rather cute though.

  22. I think both you and the teacher handled things well, but why does the teacher have to pair her up with the boy in the first place!

  23. It's really nice how you and the taecher handled the situation. It's good to see that she's being molded by very good mannered people. 😀

  24. what a creative way w/ the letter. I think thats a positive way to a negative situation.


  25. Thanks for the reminder, I'm going to have to remember not to use this word around my kids. I'm glad PN's teacher dealt with it accordingly and that PN learned her lesson. Boys ARE icky.

  26. I try very hard not to use that word. It is very powerful and oh hell yea, all teenage girls slam their doors and say I hate you, it's part of their ritual of growing up. Not a ritual I am remotely looking forward to, however

  27. Great Post! Seems like you're raising a future solid citizen there! Kids are funny in what they say sometimes. I figured you meant for her to speak up to the the teacher- not the boy himself. Lol. Great Spin!

  28. no matter how many times i saw "hate is a strong word" my boys still use it. I find myself using it too much too!

  29. Hate is a bad word in our house. Of course a couple other ones are Fart and Shut up. Which is a little comical just writing them.

  30. What a hard place for PN to be in. To have to deal with someone you don't like, then speak up and be reprimanded for it? Not any fun for her. When she was only doing what she thought you were telling her to do.

    Hopefully the teacher did address the things that annoyed PN, as well as making her write the note. That way at least her issues get resolved in the end, right?

  31. Aw, it could've been way worse. Six year olds are very passionate about their likes and…dislikes. But it was handled well, and PN got a little perspective. My six year old got drafted as messenger in a disagreement between two girls in his class – "tell Miranda I don't care what she says, I never want to be her friend again ever". Kids that age only see in absolutes…oh well.

  32. I feel like I say that word a lot. My daughter has never said it, but I know it will be any day now.
    I think the teacher handled it really well!

  33. kudos to her for speaking up.. i think sometimes we silence our kiddos.. too much… all for etiquette.

    i agree.. hate is not nice.. but it sounds like she was as diplomatic as she could have been given the situation..:)

    go PN!

    bells yet?

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