“I feel so special.” I said to my husband. “I am so loved.”

I held up my very first “I hate you note” from our son. He is five and in kindergarten, so it was spelled “I H 8 U.”

My husband and I often think that we can either laugh or cry during these parenting moments and both often choose to laugh. Laughter, we’ve learned, can keep you sane amongst the chaos of parenting. I don’t take these notes personally. I really do feel special and proud to see him expressing his emotions through writing.

Since I was five years old, I have kept a diary and I still keep it up today—electronically. It is a great way to vent. I’ve often written notes to express to someone how I feel, especially when talking just lead to more fighting.

The reason for my son’s note began when he was supposed to be getting dressed for school. Instead, he got distracted watching YouTube on TV. Our rule is that everyone has to get ready for school before they are allowed play time in the morning. Since my son wasn’t dressed, I turned off YouTube.

Instead of my son’s usual reaction of lashing out verbally or trying to hit me—which would have resulted in a loss of screen time for the day—he silently skulked away. He got ready for school and then, without saying anything, handed me the note.

“I H 8 U.”

Later in the day we discussed his note, and his feelings. We also brainstormed ideas to improve our morning routine. I’ve always encouraged our kids to talk about their emotions, but they might not always want to talk, so it’s important to respect that too and let them express themselves in their own time.

When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, she drew pictures to express how she felt. My favourite is a picture of my husband and me with Xs over our mouths and all around us. We were having an argument and she didn’t like our heated debate.

It’s important for kids to see how parents express their emotions and see them make up too. She would also draw our entire family and then place an X over the family member who she was not getting along with (usually her brother or sister).

My oldest daughter went so far as to write a note to me that said “You are so mean” when I said no to sugary snacks before bed. I’m looking forward to seeing what will transpire with our youngest daughter as she gets older. For now, we just get arms crossed and pouting from our three-year-old.

I have placed both my kids’ notes into their scrapbooks and I know that one day we’ll look back fondly at these notes. What makes the negative notes so special is that they are rare. I have tons of positive emotion notes from my kids stating how much they love us or that we are the best parents. I feel appreciated each time I receive an “I love you” note from my kids, especially, when they are written for no particular reason. And I will continue to laugh on the rare occasion that I receive an “I hate you” note.

Serena Beck works full-time as a Technical Writer. She loves to write, travel, and swim with her 3 children.