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I Love You, Hate Your Kid. By Babble’s Madeline Holler.

I love you, but I hate your kid.

By Madeline Holler |

Evie wanted to see the baby. I was reluctant to let her. My 10-day-old daughter had just recovered from a mucus-heavy cold that made her breathing and my sleeping irregular and difficult. My friend’s daughter Evie had been around the wet, germy breath of preschoolers all day and there was a month left until the end of flu season. But it was hard for me to say no, even to a three-year-old I didn’t actually like.”Let’s wait until next time,” I said, my head tilted, voice firm but friendly. “She’s napping.”

Evie was disappointed but agreed. She asked to use the bathroom.

“Upstairs next to the bedroom,” I said over my shoulder, as I helped my preschooler Beatrice out of her heavy coat and boots. We unloaded endless scraps of glittery paper from her backpack. I worked a glop of hand sanitizer into her wrinkly palms. We talked about a snack. And we waited.

Another few minutes went by before I decided to check on Evie. Halfway up the stairs I heard the faint sound of cooing, maybe even a song.

She was in the bedroom. With the baby.

Adrenalin. Seething anger. I took the stairs two at a time. Panting in the doorway, face composed but tense, I said, “Excuse me?” It came out as a question.

“I just wanted to see her little piggy toes,” Evie said, not bothering to look at my composed but tense face. Kneeled before the infant car seat where my daughter had fallen asleep, Evie swept a fingertip over the baby’s forehead, tracing bathroom germs across her pouty lip.

“Please don’t wake her,” I said, my voice shaking.

“I won’t,” she replied, steady.

“Come out of there,” I stage-whisper-barked. “Now!”

Nothing.

Then: “Please?” Another question.

Evie wiggled out of a squat and sat down cross-legged on the floor. Presumably to get more comfortable. She rested a hand on the baby’s thigh.

“Let’s go.” I tried to sound commanding, but containing rage had weakened my voice. “Eviiiiie,” I whisper-whined. And finally: “I hate you,” but silently to myself.

It was true. I hated Evie, the three-year-old daughter of my favorite local friend. I hated this cute, articulate and smart little girl whose stubborn will, bullying and fearless nature, and total disregard for anyone’s feelings – young or old – wrecked every encounter I had ever had with her. I dreaded seeing Evie. Just thinking of her put me in a bad mood. Now here she was in my home, in my bedroom, looking at – wait, touching! – my baby. I hated her for ignoring me. I hated her for, once again, forcing me to reckon with my aversion to conflict. I hated her for making me hate. Evie made apparent my inability to shield my girls from the weakest of predators – a young child. Especially for that, I hated her.

I lowered the carrier’s canopy. The baby grunted awake. Evie stood up and I followed her back downstairs to Lisa.

Lisa was Evie’s mother. I adored Lisa, just loved her. She was funny, open, smart and often exasperated just like me. She was one of the few mothers I’d met who I was completely at ease around. I was only a half-hearted user of the modern parenting vernacular, so when I was too tired for “I” statements or imploring my daughter to “use her words,” around Lisa I wasn’t embarrassed to tell Beatrice “No!” or “Quit whining.” I told Lisa how I locked Beatrice out of my room to keep from coming unglued one afternoon. And how I shouted at her once so loud that I had a sore throat for two days. No gasps. No judgment. She got it. She made parenting drama feel less, well, dramatic.

Lisa and I met setting up for a rummage sale at our daughters’ preschool. Pricing stacks of stained bedspreads could forge a bond even between polar opposites, but Lisa and I had much in common. We were new to a city where we were surrounded by wealth while our own families just got by. We were blue in a state of red. Lisa liked to read. I liked to write. She had mother problems. I had father problems. Our mutual attraction was instant. Girl crush? Maybe. It was just so easy with Lisa, easy and fun. We had the makings of Oprah and Gayle, without stylish pantsuits.

But we didn’t come alone.We had the makings of Oprah and Gayle, without stylish pantsuits.

Behind a fold-out table of rummage-sale VCRs and gently used Naturalizer slip-ons, Lisa and I pointed at our daughters through a window to the playground. Beatrice held on tight in a swing, while another girl carefully pushed her higher. Evie was dumping wet sand and dirt at the bottom of a slide, while James stood at the top crying.

“That’s mine over there,” Lisa said, “playing with James.”

Our first playdate: Lisa’s house. Things fell apart quickly – screaming, tears, yanking, pouting. Anesthetizing them in front of a Little Bear DVD didn’t help – Evie kicked at Beatrice until she cleared the three-seater sofa facing the screen. The girls were tired, I reasoned. And it’s hard to share your own space and toys. The next time, we brought new ones, two of everything. Evie took both. The rest was a repeat.

We tried again, this time outside. In the wading pool, Evie blocked Beatrice from the tiny slide. She pushed her in the water, hogged the hose and threw grass. I tried getting Beatrice to stand up to her, to at least tell her “no,” but it wasn’t in her personality to fight back. In hindsight, she was probably scared.

This went on. Sure, Lisa did all the right things – time outs, consequences, “I” statements, words. Sometimes she unraveled and let loose an old-fashioned verbal smackdown. Lisa didn’t flinch the few times I barked at Evie. But that was hard for me, disciplining a friend’s kid. And draining. Plus, it never changed anything. Evie didn’t sweat me.

Beatrice looked battle-weary after our playdates. I told her to stand up for herself and sent her back in. Again and again. Meanwhile, I watched in horror from a safe distance in the company of Lisa. Except for the sideshow, Lisa and I were having a great time.

Then Evie pushed Beatrice through an archway at the top of a nine-foot slide. Two hands, one lower back and a giggle: it had been a totally intentional shove. My daughter managed to grab onto a metal bar near the opening and avoided plunging head-first into the sand below. She hung on until I climbed to where I could yank her back up. I plopped her safely next to me, then turned to face Evie. I grabbed her by the shoulders, stuck my face in hers and screamed.

The slide was no self-defense lesson for Beatrice. Just a realization in parenting for me: no more Evie. Of course, that meant there would be a lot less Lisa, too.

I didn’t tell Lisa how I felt about her kid. I couldn’t even admit it to myself. What kind of person who has a three-year-old can hate a three-year-old? Young kids are, frequently, awful. They don’t listen. They make poor judgments. They’re self-centered. Kids are not the least bit interested in my needs, my hopes, the benefit of wisdom from my experiences. Evie wasn’t actually the only kid that I disliked. I turned down playdates. I made excuses. I could stand being around the other ones, though. I played with them, laughed with them, helped them out. I couldn’t even look Evie in the eyes. The pitch of my voice changed when I spoke to her, flattening out, turning monotone. I couldn’t fake it with Evie.

So I turned down playdates. I made excuses. At some point, between my incessant napping (I was pregnant again) and her nearly full-time job (Lisa was working again), weeks went by with only phone calls. Evie now went to morning preschool, Beatrice in the afternoon. Their opposite schedules were the perfect reason to stay apart.

Just after giving birth, my husband took a job 2,000 miles away. Lisa was sad. I was too, though my sadness was tempered by the excitement of moving to a new city. And, frankly, I was relieved there wouldn’t be another endless afternoon with Evie.

Well, maybe one more. Lisa was in a bind for childcare one day shortly before we moved. She had been so good to me after the baby arrived – cooking us meals, helping with laundry and, yes, bringing Beatrice home from preschool. Clearly, I owed her. Anyway, I wanted to help.

I figured the best thing would be to get out of the house. So I packed up the baby and the now four-year-olds, and we went to the zoo. As we rounded the rainforest, Beatrice had to go to the bathroom. We headed to the nearest one. After she finished up, Evie decided she had to go too. So we waited. And waited.

“Madeline?” came her voice over the din of automatically flushing toilets and running sinks. “Can you wipe me?”

I had already yelled at Evie for running off near the wildcats and lost my patience with her when she pounded on the thick plexi-glass windows in the herpatorium. So I was counting the minutes – we were down to about 30 – before we could drop her off at home. So close.

“You’re a big girl, Evie,” I said, voice flat. “You can do it.”

“No, I can’t. I want you to do it,” she said. “Please?” she asked. “I really need you to wipe me.”

“No, Evie. You know how.”

I wasn’t the only woman in the zoo bathroom with kids, but I got no sympathetic smiles. I tried waiting Evie out.

“Please?” she asked, not a minute later. “I really need you to wipe me.”

I was seething again.

“Beatrice,” I hissed, “wait here with the stroller.” I yanked open the rusty stall door. Evie, pants around her ankles and smiling, handed me a few squares of very weak toilet paper.

Lisa and I are in touch. She is still the person I feel safest telling the dark tales of my new lows in parenting. I can’t say whether we’ll be friends decades from now, though. It seems impossible to sustain a real friendship for so many years without having known each other all that long before I moved away. Plus, the distance. How often will we ever see each other? There are all those miles between us. All those miles and a little something else.

More on Babble

About Madeline Holler

madeline-holler

Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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38 thoughts on “I Love You, Hate Your Kid. By Babble’s Madeline Holler.

  1. Discogoddess says:

    Finally someone has the guts to say what my cowardly heart cannot! Thank you. I too have issues with my friend’s kid (I can’t even type the word “hate” without feeling bad). He’s rude, he’s flip and he’s aggressive. And his mama doesn’t like it when other people attempt to discipline him (not hitting, of course, but just plain old “back it up, shortie, and go sit down somewhere” type stuff).Yet, my friend keeps asking when they can come visit, or when they can babysit my infant daughter. I miss her friendship, and I HATE ducking and dodging, but I see no good way to come clean about this. At least I know I’m not alone. *Le sigh*

  2. trix says:

    I have a  really good friend as well that has the “gross” kid. The things she does are gross and I don’t want her to have any influence on my son. She’s gotten a little better recently but there was a time that I avoided doing things with her for quite a while. But I just wanted you to know you  are not alone.

  3. ebbhead says:

    Why didn’t you just grab Evie when she was playing near your sleeping baby and carry her out of the room?  What the hell?  Any parent would be ok with you taking their germy kid away from your newborn.  Reeks of coddling (and not even your own child) to me…

  4. 8cmdeluded says:

    Nice work … from your writer-mama friend. I know way too many people who foist their sick kids in my direction. It’s just plain rude. I know two kids who have chronic boogers. Their mom would practically need a jack hammer to chisel away their petrified chartreuse snottage, yet she hardly wipes their snot-cessories away. On the flip side, my kids have been the sick troupe that other parents no doubt hate to see coming. I always and I mean ALWAYS make sure to phone ahead or email saying my kids have snot, can we still come. Too tired to insert proper punctuation here. Sorry. You are a talented writer. Keep up the good work. I don’t know how you do it. My work falls flat compared to yours. Amazing.

  5. susmatt says:

    What stands out to me is how playdates often reflect parents and their needs and not necessarily what’s best for  kids. It’s great that you had such a deep connection with Evie’s mom, and I can also imagine that there was something sort of mystifying about how the daughter had the opposite effect on you, but the larger point that surfaces is how your desire to be with your friend was so powerful that you agreed to situations that were tough for your daughter. I have been in similar situations. I find the whole playdate scene fraught with all sorts of issues, many of which are about adults, not children. You described your feelings so well that I found myself growing enraged by what Evie did! What also stood out to me is how you never discussed what you were feeling with the mom (although you and she seemingly talked often about parenting). I get how hard it is to talk frankly about our kids and others’ kids, and yet you felt so close to her. It seems like there was this dark secret always lurking in the background — your intensely negative feelings about Evie… that dread you felt whenever she was going to come over… although the desire to be with her mother was compelling, appealing, worth suffering the outrageous behavior of the daughter. I am also reminded of what has happened to me and my husband as we and most of our friends have had children. There have definitely been moments where pre-children friendships have suffered because we have discovered that we don’t share parenting values with friends, people whom we do like in many other ways but have come to realize that we have very different ideas about raising children.

  6. inafamilyway says:

    Now imagine this situation with your beloved husbands daughter – your stepdaughter….
    When I met her she was 4 and I instantly fell in love with her, but the older she got (she’s 8 now) the harder it was for me to be around her/deal with her. I feel quite guilty about this & I know it is not her fault (coming from separated parents she’s spoiled from 2 ends & accustomed to be the center of attention – always) but especially since I became pregnant it is really hard for me to keep my feelings under wraps. Strange fears come up – will she suck all attention away from my child? Will it be her & her dad against me & “my” child? Will my child – dear God – end up being like her?? The horror….
    After screaming at me for 2 hours that I “ruined her life” after our announcement of the new baby she has calmed down a lot & is now actually excited, prompting everybody to comments like “she will just love the baby & take over”, “she’ll be great with the baby, it will be HER baby” “your child will just adore having a big sister & will want to be just like her”….yeah – that’s exactly what I’m afraid of…
    Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. It’s not always easy to like, much less love, other peoples kids & very hard to talk to the parent about it (how do I tell my husband I do not like the child he adores?).

  7. asalgy says:

    Oh, I appreciate you writing this so much.  When you step back and get perspective, it’s hard to think that you’d actually sacrifice your own child’s happiness for your own, but that’s just what these situations are.  I did the same thing to my own daughter until it finally dawned on me that my friend, the one I loved so much, was responsible for the shitty behavior of her child-the sneaky, aggressive, and unkind playmate I foisted on my own.  Once that dawned on me, everything changed.  I still felt guilty and mourned the loss of the friendship, but it was tempered with the knowledge that her child had learned (and honed)  those abusive and manipulative behaviors while my friend stood by blithley.

  8. notperfectmom says:

    I think it’s very courageous to voice such strong opinions about your friend’s child, but the question that continually rang in my ears as I read your article is “who is behaving like the child in this situation?”  Your friend’s daughter has an excuse for her behavior….she is 4 years old and still learning how to negotiate her way through the world.   Rather than bottle up your feelings until it bubbled into “hate” for a child, maybe you could have discussed it in a rational way with her mom.  No child is perfect, and certainly no mom is.  I’m sure your friend is aware of her little girl’s behavior and may feel at a loss in how to handle it…especially around a friend who’s child’s even temperament never seems to challenge or “rock the boat”.  (Take it from the mother of a child who is extremely confident, assertive, physical and can make me cringe in horror with the way she acts with certain children, but can also amaze me with how gentle, loving, and intelligent she is with others, or with the same child on a different day) .  Your style of parenting may not work for a child with a temperament different than that of your own, so please don’t cast stones.  Maybe your friend’s little girl will take that same aggressiveness and sense of challenge and change the world some day.  You are a truly gifted writer…it’s just the content that had me puzzled at times.  Regardless, thanks for an entertaining article….I guess it served the purpose of striking a cord with this reader.

  9. tucker says:

    I understand your frustration. It’s hard when your kid is being bullied by another kid. It’s frustrating to deal with someone else’s kid behaving in a way that you see as totally unacceptable. I get that, and I sympathize. Truly.And I would probably nod my head with you over coffee if you hadn’t acknowledged one thingthat you see Lisa trying as hard as she can to keep Evie on the straight and narrow. Lisa is clearly a good mom, and she is obviously trying as hard as she can to parent Evie in the best way she knows how.I have a four-year-old just like Evie. She is stubborn and willful. She pushes every limit. She tests every boundary. She has been this way since birth. When we go to the zoo, she runs off and pounds on things too hard. She has a hard time not touching her sleeping little sister when I ask her not to. I see other moms looking at she and I and passing judgement, thinking either I am an ineffective mom or she is a “bad” kid.But I am a really good mom, and I say that unapologetically. And I know that it is not my parenting, because not only do I have an Evie, I also have a Beatrice. My children’s personalities couldn’t be more different. But they are who they are, and my job is to help them be the best possible kid they can be.I wish you would have talked to Lisa about Evie. Because if you had, she probably would have burst into tears and told you how hard it is. How hard it is to have the kid who is always taking that one step over the line. Not having quite enough patience. A kid who pushes and shoves. It’s incomprehensibly hard. And you don’t know what that’s like. You can’t, because you don’t have an Evie.What I don’t think you understand is that Beatrice is thinking about all those things that Evie does. She probably thinks about what would happen if she pushed another kid off the slide, because ALL preschoolers think about these things…it’s part of developing a conscience and learning about consequences. But Beatrice has the impulse control not to. Evie’s head never gets that far. Her body is off and running before she thinks. And my challenge with my Evie is to get her to slow down and think before she does those things. But it’s not going to magically happen overnight. It is her biggest challenge, and it’s going to take time. And lots of hard work, on both our parts.And let me tell you, when it came time to seek out a playgroup, I was scared. No one wants to add the kid who stirs up trouble. But somehow I found this amazing bunch of women. Instead of tiptoeing around the subject, they said, “How can I help?” And they did. They took the time ask me how to get the best possible behavior out of my child. They got to know my child and all her good qualities, of which she has many. Most of all, they came to realize that, when she’s able to slow herself down, she really is a wonderful child.Do you have to let your kid play with my kid and Evie? No. And I understand if you don’t want to. It is work. Hard work. Work that I do day in and day out. But to use the word “hate” when describing a three-year-old? Wow. That breaks my heart.

  10. skeptic says:

    You know, even kindergarten teachers sometimes have to help little kids wipe and zip after trips to the potty. I am lucky all my children are like Beatrice, I don’t make them play with bullies, but nor do I help “grow bullies” by failing to teach limits. The toddler should be moved away from the newborn, the bottom should be wiped if need be, a child who  routinely runs off should be physically restrained etc. You are an excellent writer but perhaps not a natural teacher.

  11. crabmommy says:

    as always, madeline, a totally right-on piece. How well I know the weird intense hatred (and shame!) that can come from the visceral despising of a small kid. As a writer I am curious though…does Lisa read your work? In short, have you outed your true feelings for Evie here, with the friendship of you and Lisa now permanently ruined? Don’t mean to intrude, just can’t help being curious…

  12. miss frazzled says:

    Does Lisa read your column? ;)

  13. Cairalune says:

    I lived thru this for years with my best friend! Her son was born MISERABLE and morphed into a true terror. I used to tell her, ‘if you’d beat his ass one good time he’ll stop-trust me!’ She would reply in tears ‘it doesn’t work-nothing does!’Fast forward three years…I gave birth to a daughter that is his clone. Everything he was, she is! And my friend was right, beating her ass won’t work and I refuse to try! To be honest, I don’t know what does. She’s a handful; opinionated, bossy and loud. I can say I’m lucky enough that she is not physically aggressive with smaller children, but she will pick a fight with a bigger one in a heartbeat. I think by focusing so much on what I hated about my girlfriend’s son, I never bothered to look for any redeeming qualities in him. Now that I have one of my own, I find my patience level has sky-rocketed and even in the middle of one of her outbursts, I’m looking for the good in her. I KNOW it’s there, probably hiding under the 666 that’s on the back of her head….

  14. andreaandrea says:

    Madeline,Wow, very courageous piece. And I know exactly what you mean. Thanks,andreaaskowitz.com

  15. jenniferwhite says:

    I had the exact same situation happen with my friends kids recently. I just could not handle how needy and whiney they are. It drove me absolutely crazy so I’m now in the same situation you were. See I’m the type of person who would be up front and nicely tell the truth about the situation. My husband is more sensitive than me and suggests that I either get over how annoying her kids are or just start making excuses. I’m going with the latter on this one. Since the day I met these two kids they have been on my nerves every time I’m around them. It’s been 4 years and it hasn’t changed. So I don’t want to be annoyed in the very little time that I have with my family outside of work by trying to hang out with this family. The difficult thing is my husband really enjoys the company of her husband. So it may get challenging to keep their relationship separate. But I just wanted to say I loved this article, can totally relate to it and I appreciate your honestly about it and how you put yourself out there. I seriously thought I was the only one who had this issue with one of my friends children. Miss Frazzled I loved your comments too!! Good stuff!Thanks,TiTi

  16. Revae says:

    I really liked this article, but you shouldn’t be afraid to set ground rules for when the children play together. And in your own home, what you say goes. If one of my friends children did something wrong in MY house or to MY child (in the case of my child it doesn’t matter where we’re at) you can bet I would be on it THAT VERY SECOND. As for ‘little Evie’ pushing your girl down the slide – I would have had her mother beat that ass right then and there, and then the child would get a talking to from me, as well. My child comes before any friendship that I might have, and if another parent can’t respect that, then I don’t need them as a friend. Especially if they can’t teach their kid how to behave. It’s called discipline, people. Don’t be afraid to use it.

  17. Little Beasts says:

    Great article. I feel your pain. I, too, have a very best friend with a complete and total BEAST for a child. He’s now seven and getting worse with each passing day. I distanced myself from my friend, ignored calls and emails to get together simply because I couldn’t stand the thought of being around her kid (who she brings everywhere with her). My daughter hated playing with him. He’s a terror, a bully, and most of all he tells lie after lie after lie. He’ll (at the age of 7!) spill his pop on purpose and smile at me. He’ll flush things down the toilet, terrorize our cat, go into every closet and cupboard in my house, try to break my kids toys on purpose, tear up pictures that my daughter draws, you name it! I watched him today (their last day in town) so she and her husband could finish packing before their move in two days. He was at my house four about six hours before she came to get him. He had been having fun, having a good day, etc. The split second my friend walked in the door, he ran to her crying that my daughter had been mean and wouldn’t share. The first thing my friend does is to ask my daughter, quite sternly, if she had in fact treated her son mean. I WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE!!!! She was more concernd in making sure that my kid hadn’t been mean. That was enough for me. I interrupted her, looked at her kid, and said, “You tell the truth. You are lying. You are acting like this because your mom is here. Tell the truth now.” He gave me a terrible look and started to cry, which prompted my friend to hug him and tell him everything was fine. My daughter was standing there crying from the way my friend taled to her. I think she got my message loud and clear. I hate that my dear friend is moving, but I’m actually glad I won’t have to see the little beastiie for years to come…. I’ve had enough…. Good ridance to you both…. Wow – I feel better.

  18. webmom says:

    Oh wow! I am up to my eyeballs in this exact same situation. I had fallen on hard times financially and asked one of my good friends to move in with me to share the bills. I thought it would be good for both of our sons (mine is 5 hers is 3) that they are both only children and could use some time to learn to share and get along with others. But her son is a holy terror. He hits, bites, talks back, cries constantly, won’t follow instructions..nothing. And unfortunately, it’s not just at home–he has been getting in trouble daily at his daycare as well. I am not sure how to approach her about his behavioral problems cuz her solution to anything is just to yell at him…no spanking, no time out, nothing. I really need the money that she is contributing to my house hold, as we are both single parents and neither of us are getting any help from the sorry-ass exes, but I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I really, really, REALLY HATE THAT KID.

  19. Leeandra says:

    Wait:The three-year-old child of your best friend wants to see your new baby. This is a perfectly reasonable want. You do not want the three-year-old around your baby because the baby is sick and you do not want her to become sicker by being exposed to the germs the three-year-old brought in from nursery school. This is also a perfectly reasonable want.Why couldn’t you have just told Evie the truth, that she could not see the baby just then because the baby was sick? You said that Evie’s a smart and articulate child–she would have understood this even if she didn’t obey you. When you went upstairs, you found Evie not hurting or even waking the baby, but admiring, cooing, and singing to her. These are the types of behaviors you WANT to see Evie exhibit towards other kids. Yes, Evie was disobedient and should have been punished for going in to see the baby when she was explicitly told not to, but I think she deserved a simple explanation for WHY she couldn’t see the baby. Because right now, all she’s getting from you is a whole lot of passive-agressiveness, rules that seem to have no basis in reason or logic, plus feeling like she’s being punished for both anti-social (pushing kids off the slide) and very nice behavior (being kind to infants). Kids don’t just pop out of the womb knowing all the social graces. Some pick this up more easily and with less explicit instruction than others, but they all have to be taught to share their toys, to not dump mud and sand at the bottom of the slide because it ruins the slide for the other kids, to not push kids off the top of the slide because they could seriously hurt their playmates, etc. Also, kids have their own little personalities–just because you clicked with Evie’s mother does not mean that she and your daughter will be best friends forever or even able to stand the sight of each other. They should be expected to treat each other with kindness, but you can’t force them to enjoy playing together. Some people–even grown-up people who do not fight about toys or push each other off slides–just don’t like being around each other. It’s the order of the universe. You don’t mention anything about other people’s reactions to Evie–is she like this ALL the time, or just around you? Is she a constant discipline problem at school? I’m not a mother or any kind of child psychologist, but I do feel kind of sorry for Evie. Have you completely forgotten what it was like to be a young child? Believe me, Evie knows that you hate HER, not just her behavior. She probably feels like she is competing with you for her mother’s attention (and losing the battle), like she is being unfavorably compared to your daughter Beatrice (even though they have entirely different personalities with their own strengths and weaknesses), and like everything that she does that’s good (showing interest in and being sweet to your new baby) is completely ignored at best and punished at worst. So why should Evie bother with being good?

  20. tacomamama says:

    I have just lost a good friend (actually lost her quite a while ago but she just admitted it to me) over this. I have an Evie, and also a Beatrice. My Evie is a spirited (truthfully, ADD) kid who blunders into everything and has had to be taught not to bully. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy on that and she’s grown up a lot in the past few years. At 7, the kid who had me in tears daily at age 4 now has quite a bit of empathy and a pretty well-developed conscience, although she does still need daily reminders. She’s a little less mature than other kids her age which is easy to forget because she’s very big and very smart. A lot of kids like this are soft and squishy in the center when you get to know them.She would often clash with my friend’s eldest, who is a few years younger and not used to having anyone older to compete with. I never thought it was a huge deal, (she has never to my knowledge physically hurt him or done more than refuse to share a toy or insist on playing her way – although she’s done that repeatedly) though I tried to keep an eye on it and tell her to quit it. My friend was one of the people I thought I could be vulnerable with on these issues (we’d been very close when our kids were babies) and it hurt me very deeply to learn that she was not inviting me to things (or even returning my phone calls) because she did not like my kid. (Her actual words)The two things which bother me most about it are:1) Having a kid like Evie is exhausting 24/7, 365 days a year and when you find another mom you think you can rely on occasionally to be a friend and help out, (as you help in return, like friends do) it hurts to lose that connection. I watched her baby when she’d scream at anyone not her mom, she’d put up with my daughter’s loudness and break up disputes between our eldest’s occasionally, we’d all survive. It’s what friends do. I’m sure there were moments when Lisa would watch your children (especially your new baby) and the baby would howl for two hours straight, you’d come home and she’d tell you it was “fine.” She did this for you, not because she loved being screamed at, but because she was your friend.2) You were Lisa’s friend. Or maybe, Lisa was your friend, but you weren’t really close enough to her to try to find other ways to be friends. Because I can guarantee she knew how you felt, and would happily have talked to you about it had you started that conversation. But that would be hard, and it would invest you in that friendship, and it’s easier to be passive aggressive and just let it go than to talk to your friend about this issue which obviously makes her life hard in a way that you have not yet had to experience yourself. You do not wish to take on that baggage. You are allowed to feel that way, but it does not make you a very good friend.Kids like Evie teach us that we can love someone deeply even when they cause us grief. That sometimes being there to wipe a bottom (or put up with a little aggravation) when it isn’t absolutely necessary is all a person needs to know that they will be loved unconditionally. When you do that for someone, whether they are 3 or 33, sometimes you grow up a little, too.

  21. MomOfTeen says:

    The parents who’ve jumped in with helpful comments about how the writer of this article SHOULD HAVE handled each of the incidents she gave as examples. What they’re ignoring is how constantly she’s probably had to bite her tongue. I spent my child’s toddler years with a very bloody tongue from the restraint I had to exercise when being around a few of my friend’s children. It’s not that I couldn’t see what might be a more effective or positive way to handle each situation, it was that the ‘situations’ were non-stop and simply exhausting. I eventually weaned off of seeing my friends with their kids and found ways to see them alone. My daughter is a teenager now and, if I had it to do over again, I’d only have play dates for my daughter with children SHE truly enjoyed, rather than the forced dates with offspring of moms that I enjoyed. It seems so simple now, but it’s very hard when your kids are little and you (and your friends) completely assume that the children of my friends will be the friends of my children. Not so. Little Evie is not your friend. You don’t have to like her. And “hate”, though an awful word,is accurate. I’ve had it myself in the same situations and it’s borne of frustration and all the pent-up emotion of controlling your mouth and your temper.p.s. – The Evies don’t get any easier to be around when they become teenagers. Their impulsive behavior becomes dangerous, even deadly. They require very skilled parenting that, frankly, most moms and dads aren’t up to. And, it’s important to ‘teach’ your children how to react to their behavior. I know many kids who’ve been led into frightening situations with an Evie at the head of the pack.

  22. tacomamama says:

    Oh honestly. If you can tell who’s going to be a dangerous delinquent at the age of 3 I’d like to have access to your crystal ball. Some kids are a handful during their early years, it’s not a life sentence. (But I will concede it can be if you treat them like dangerous pariahs.)

  23. MomOfTwo says:

    Thank you for writing this article! I know how this feels – you try to treat other kids the way you treat your own, but it’s ineffective. A little, polite, “You can see the baby next time” would have stopped your own kids immediately in their tracks, but falls on deaf ears on someone else’s kid. So frustrating! And it’s easy to say, well, it’s your house, you make the rules, put your foot down, but where do you start? How do I get a visiting child, who is at our house only for a few hours at a time, to behave in the manner I expect? I’ve spent years shaping and molding my child’s behavior into the appropriate behavior I expect. How do I condense years of conversations we’ve had with our children about appropriate behavior into a few brief minutes? We use a a time-out chair for discipline in our house. Am I to start from square one with another child, teaching them how we use the time-out chair – this is where it is, what sort of behaviors constitute a time-out, etc., etc.? And if my children don’t voluntarily go to the time-out chair, I pick them up and put them there. Could I do that with someone else’s child? And even if I did do all of this, I know I would end up feeling resentful that I have to parent someone else’s child. How hard is it to say to your child, “A rule in life is to show respect. One way to show respect is to follow the instructions of so-and-so’s Mommy when you are visiting their house.” This is what we have done with all of our behavior expectations. We talk about it, then we praise the respectful behavior, and time-out the disrespectful. Years of doing this has produced great results. Are the parents of the Evies of the world just not doing this? Do they give up too easily? My kids are well behaved in public (note: yes, at home they can be terrors!) not because of some sort of “natural” bias toward good behavior, but because we’ve put A LOT of time and effort into developing those behaviors in our children. Yes, I’m sure it’s hard work parenting the Evies of the world, but, guess what? It’s hard work for everyone. Next time you see a well behaved child in public, know that the good behavior is not there “magically”; there has been years of conversations and consequences for that child to get to that point. I like the comments of MomOfTeen. It’s good to get some perspective – I don’t need to set up playdates for my young children. That can wait until they can do it themselves. If I want a playdate, I should set that up for myself – without the kids!

  24. bioclockoff says:

    thank god someone can write about this! we had a visit from the in-laws which included their 7 year old girl (who is good), and their horrible 4.5 year old boy. It’s regrettable our nephew was such a brat! sorry but he was. whiny, screaming, tormenting our dog (while the parents, would say long snetences like”Matthew, the dog doesn’t like that blah blah”). Finally we got fed up with it and would just say “NO!!!”. The parents both work long hours, have a nanny for the children, and are of the older variety (47). Matthew was the most unpleasant child i have ever had to deal with, and when he mentioned “I like it here I want to stay”, I pushed him out the door – “Not now or ever. Go home.” The kid needs exercise, discipline, and socialization – he still even has to wear diapers at night time! The parents reaction was long winded, or they got aggro which escalated the situation…..it was super frustrating to have this in our house.It’s ok not to like bratty children, and although you hope they grow out of it, it’s the parents fault for this behavior. Just like if you have an annoying dogs that jumps on people, bites, or barks, it’s the owners fault.I wish people would stop saying “Oh s/he’s spirited, oh well”, and just deal with it as this behavior only creates entitled whiny adults with no coping skills.I can say my nephew definitely made me reconsider having children, esp. when the brother-in-law states that having children causes you to lose you identity.

  25. Truth would be best says:

    Losing friends and experiencing social rejection is exactly what is supposed to happen to a child when they behave badly towards others. One word: Consequences. No consequences means the kid learns nothing. Shame is exactly what a kid should experience if they’ve done something bad to somebody. But now parents shelter kids from that instead of letting them experience it. As for the author, she couldn’t take real action to protect her daughter from this playmate because these days it is wrong to be judgmental. We’re a more permissive society. Evie would have an important, formative moment if she were told by her mother she wasn’t allowed to play with that other little girl anymore because Evie was mean to the girl. But, a) that confrontation was avoided by the author, and b) Lisa would have sheltered Evie from it even if the author had told Lisa she didn’t want Evie to play with her daughter anymore. There’s no opportunity in here at all for Evie to learn anything.

  26. LKMom says:

    I have to wonder if you value your friendship with Lisa too much.
    How can either of you, after that slide incident, NOT do something about this child and WHY would Lisa have left her in YOUR care.
    Your a great writer but there seems to be a good bit of the story missing. This ties up too nicely in a “Evie is the devil but no one sees it but me”. If a child terrorized MY daughter, believe you me, we will NOT be playing with them anymore no matter how much I like her mother.

  27. TAP says:

    I hope you find the time to read these replies to your problem – they are all very interesting and I hope they help you to come to terms with something that can be very painful – no longer being friends with somebody because of their child! I think everybody who has replied has written the truth, depending on how they perceive the problem and I think that this is very rich and interesting and I would like to say that I learnt a lot from reading all of this!!
    I have experienced this situation many times (and am still going through it!) and it has been made more difficult because I moved to a foreign country – different language, being lonely etc. Is there an answer? – I think it depends on what you have time to give and what you want to give! Do you want to or can you help? Then do so, knowing that it can be long and difficult, or if not (at this time in your life you’re not able to) then walk away and leave alone and try not to feel too guilty!!
    With my situation at the moment I’ve decided to back off and leave alone to see what will happen and I am pleased to say that it’s not a bad solution!! My children are older so it’s easier(13&14) and if I see friends it can be without them if they don’t wish to come. Letting them choose their friends is definately a good idea!

  28. fedupmomma says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself. She’s a 3-year old little girl. Some kids are just more spirited than others and need more guidance. Evie sounds intelligent and inquisitive; if not a little impulsive her actions. If you were a good friend to Lisa you would realize this and be supportive rather than ditch her.

  29. MrsSparkles says:

    As a former kindergarten teacher and now a children’s sing-along edutainer working toward achieving my dream of “sparkle-izing” children across the country through a children’s TV show (much like Mr. Rogers did!), a cause that is dear to my heart is this issue of bullying. What’s especially interesting is the conversation around the question of bullying in this particular developmental stage and age-range — are the behaviors portrayed by this author precursors to bullying, or is this to be accepted as normal developmental behaviors? I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer but it’s a conversation worth pursuing, and I’m doing it. My mantra is for kids to “sparkle-ize somebody everyday…” because “…it comes back in a great big way; show somebody that you care, spread the SPARKLE everywhere.” So that’s where it starts — when children are taught, reminded and disciplined according to positive behaviors versus accepting that “it’s all just normal”, I believe we can make a difference. Our kids can sparkle-ize at their youngest interactions, we must show them to be nice and kind. Those are the messages I spread in my songs! Sparkle-On!

  30. ihateyourkid dot com says:

    I hate your kid(s)? Not sure. Rant at ihateyourkid.com

  31. oldmotherhubbard says:

    Raising children is no easy task. There is no real guidebook, no black and white, right or wrong answer. Each parent has to discipline their own children in the way they are most comfortable. You can’t criticize others’ parenting skills because how do you know that their way is not the best way for them to handle their child?

    That being said, I loved this article. I am so happy and relieved to know that their are other mothers out there that have felt and gone through the same things I have.

    I am put off by some of the comments that say to the author they should be ashamed. And for some who say you just don’t know what it’s like to have a child “like this.”

    I don’t have a child like that. I have two beautiful, sweet daughters who just don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. They are both early teenagers now and are not aggressive. They can be assertive when need be, but not mean. I feel blessed to have such sensitive girls.

    But, I have had these bullying playdates. It’s not fun, and I have lost friends because I had to realize that I didn’t want my children around kids like that. Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in not sheltering kids from the world, but when almost every single playdate is filled with bullying over and over again you have to draw the line. Believe me, I’ve tried disciplining the kids and/or talking to the parents. It’s a situation where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    The thing that irks me the most is parents that say oh kids will be kids and treat it as normal behavior. Some parents ask why are you attacking my child–duh, because your child is attacking my child. One of my teen-age daughters has even been cyberbullied by some of her so-called friends. The parents reactions has been to “let them work it out.” The main thing that I have seen every single time over the years, is the kids never suffer any real consequences for their actions. Don’t get me wrong, the parent may put them in time out, or take away their cell phone. But, then they take their child to another playdate right after, or let them go see a movie right away. The kids don’t even flinch.

    I remember one mom who was so worried about her child’s not reading when she was in elementary school. The girl was really into cheerleading and was on a competitive cheer squad. They had “laid down the law” and told her she had to read 30 min. everyday, then the mom whined to me that her daughter still wouldn’t read. I suggested the mom tell her daughter that she can’t go to cheerleading practice until she had done her reading. You would have thought I’d slapped the mom, and her response was that will never happen.

    I’m not telling parents how they should do their job. I’m just asking that they not consider bullying type behavior as “normal” because that is just what kids too. And I ask that they spend time with and talk to their child when things happen. Ask them how they would feel if someone treated them that way. Teach them that people have feelings, both kids and parents. Pick a suitable punishment that fits the offense. If it doesn’t seem to help and the child or teenager still doesn’t stop or seem to get it, then think about taking away a privilege that really matters. And remember, that in most cases, the child doing the bullying is doing it for attention, or because they have low self-esteem, etc. and work on those things, too.

    With the bullies that I have experienced over the years, it is often a family that the parents seem very busy and don’t really want to seem bothered and brush it off as wasn’t anyone meant to you when you were growing up? That’s just what kids/teenagers do, it’s just a part of growing up. IT’S NOT NORMAL. If you accept it as a normal part of growing up, it will never change.

  32. feelinghelpless says:

    I am just going through this now. My very dear friend has a stubborn mean child who is 4. I talked to her about it, and she is heart broken that I feel this way about her child. My son is 3 and sometimes they do well together, but there are times they don’t, and it’s ugly. I wonder if I am doing what is best for my sons social development by exposing him to someone who makes him “sad, and feel bad”, my sons words. I want to help, but I have to put both of my children first, first. To make matters worse, I have been feeling this way about her child for awhile, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t bring this to the table sooner. Now I’m just giving her space. I don’t know what else to do.

  33. IwasBeatrice says:

    OK, I was Beatrice in this picture.
    My mom had a girlfriend with three daughters close in age to me. They were horrible. I couldn’t stand them. They ran around like wild animals, trashing my roon.
    They did all sorts of horrible things to me. One in particular figured out that she could get away with murder and she did no end of sadistic things to me.
    Do any of you know what urine tastes like?
    I do. Kathy made me drink hers or she would go to my mom with a big fat lie about what a jerk I was and my mom would believe her.
    According to my mom, I was the ass in that group since I was the one who couldn’t get along with them.
    The real truth was that they were ganging up on me and tormenting me, secure in the knowledge that my mom would buy their bullcrap and beat the snot out of me if I dared stand up for myself.
    Ultimately she admitted that she knew the other girls were problems but still blamed me for not just going along with them and trying to get along.
    Why should I? I had nothing in common with them other than my mom thought their mom pooped ice cream.
    I grew up with a mom who put a girlfriend first, me second.
    Here’s the biggest kicker.
    After all the crap I took, all the misery, the bellyful of pee, the ridicule and the false accusations, my mother has finally figured out that her “friend of friends” was a “frenemy.”
    The entire relationship was based on my mom “taking it” from her buddy and being inferior to her in every way.
    So I put up with all of that and now my mom barely sees the buddy she threw me away for.
    I read this story and my first instinct was that the problem is ultimately that Madeline valued Lisa’s friendship more than Beatrice’s well-being.
    And if that little shit Evie begged me to wipe her ass, I would have gone into that stall, yanked her pants up and made her sit in her own filth for the rest of the day.
    “You don’t like it? Next time wipe your own butt.”

  34. Totally says:

    I googles “I hate my friends kid” because I do, and I am so happy i got your article!! I kind if feel lke my friend is a douchebag now too though bc she judges EVERYONE and their kids and then her “genius” is such a brat it’s like “???”. Anyway, the judging i can’t listen to anymore so I’m pretty much done…but I will talk to her tomorrow about the “sword fight” she had with my son today= she beat my baby with a stick and we all acted like it was of average gravity. My hub tells me I need to teach my boy to fight back?! Um, I’m not teaching my son it’s okay to hit girls when he’s five. And then expect hi
    Not to hit them when he’s eight. Y know? The issue is her daughters behavior and unwed to address it. Thanks for writing and everyones comments. Very helpful!!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Any input on when your BFF before kids has befoer you, and now that you are having kids expects you to raise them the same as she did, but you feel about her kids the way Madeline feels about Evie? I can’t judge her based on the premise of how I think I will parent my kids, but I cant tell her i dont like her children esp since I am godmother to 1. Also how do I tell her she isn’t going to be the godmother to mine? I love her, but we

  36. Anonymous says:

    are in totally diffent places and I dont know how much to say

  37. Sickofit says:

    My… isn’t it a relieve that I’m not alone in this world. Well, my situation is a little different as the kid I hate is my boyfriend’s 2 year old niece, who he absolutely adores like his own daughter. Well, unfortunately, I resent the little kid.

    She hits her baby sister, who’s only 4 months old and she also hits her mom when she doesn’t get what she likes. She screams, she kicks people and she throws stuff. She always wants to be the center of attention.

    But don’t get me wrong. She can be an angel at times, especially when she’s in a good mood. But her mood switches in an instant.

    Well, anyway, it’s hard. disciplining a bratty 2 year old without offending my boyfriend and her mom (my boyfriend’s sister). My 5 year old niece and nephew was never as obnoxious as this kid and my sisters never had a hard time disciplining them.

  38. heather says:

    why you would think anyone with a well behaved kids would want to ever put up with the little monster you cant handle is beyond me . Ugh No , your friend didnt want to babysit -she didnt even want you to come over with your kid.

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