The mind of a four year old is a wonderfully unpredictable thing. Whereas with adults I can pretty easily predict the direction a conversation will take, with Orla I frequently land in discussions that aren’t even on the map.

So it is that her new favourite thing is the ‘I hate game’. What started as a teasing misunderstanding – “you like chocolate?! I thought you hated it!” – quickly turned into a giddy listing of all the most impossible, ridiculous things to dislike, with the assertion that she does.

“I hate cuddles!”

“I hate pink!”

She’s beside herself with giggles at the implausibility of it all. She lists her favourite people, her schoolfriends, her teacher. Has to whisper in my ear when she gets to “I hate mummy“, because it’s practically blasphemy in her eyes.

“I hate wrapping paper! I hate Spring!”

The list is becoming increasingly obscure, from both of us.

“I hate lying down”, I tell her. “And gin. And melted cheese.”

“I hate glitter. And paddling in the stream!”

And then, with a shiver of excitement, she thinks of something especially brilliant.

“I know! I hate… myself!”

She launches into triumphant laughter at her joke, but I have to pull her in for an urgent cuddle all the same. Hearing those words from her mouth is a strange thing: to know that to her the idea is ludicrous, as it should be. To think of all the times I have said that to myself, and to others, with no suggestion of humour.

And that, I realise, is my job, right here, as her mama: to make sure that it stays that way. To do my best to ensure the idea of hating herself remains a ridiculous joke, because she is so assured of her worth, and value, and loveableness.

I gotta tell you guys. Sometimes I hate parenting… ??


  • Helen Hobden

  • July 12, 2017

That took me a bit off-guard. Suddenly I’m sobbing. But how utterly lovely 🙂

  • ↠ ᴊᴇɴɴɪғᴇʀ ↞

  • June 05, 2017

This is so incredibly sweet. I love the innocence of kids. My fiance and I want to have kids in the next year or two but for now we have two little nieces that are the sweetest little girls ever. One is nearly 4 months old, the other just about 3. This game totally seems like something the 3 year old would find hilarious and entertaining.

  • saspetherick

  • June 05, 2017

This might be the best thing I have read in ages. Beautiful work mama xxx

  • melanie.sylvia

  • June 04, 2017

this was such a cute post. Loved it 🙂

  • AJ

  • June 03, 2017

This just made my cry into my cappuccino. I love your writing. Cheers to this crazy mamahood. <3

  • Vanilla Papers

  • June 02, 2017

It is so funny and ridiculous to hate our own selves, when you look at it with the innocence of a child.

  • Paula Solar

  • June 02, 2017

I hate you…

oh noooo no no I can’t, sorry, I can’t. I don’t want to play a game in which I could say things like that.

I love you, I love Orla… I can’t say I hate the things and the people I love. I can’t.

ps. I would have cried if I had heard Orla saying “I hate myself”, I know it’s a joke for her, but it hurts, because I’ve hated myself, and she’s so precious and young… she can’t start hating herself so early in life, she can’t start hating herself at all… give her extra kisses from me, please

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