On a particularly bright day of parenting my father told my sister she was the smart one (my sister is really fucking smart). “What about me daddy?” I asked. “You’re the pretty one,” he replied. That didn’t mess me us up at all.
A few years later I proudly brandished my science test and it’s perfect score, exclaiming to my father, “I’m the smartest one in class!” His response was to say that god would punish me for bragging.
I turned out OK, but I have always been a compliment whore, especially with men. I’ve been known to annoyingly ask someone I’m dating for a compliment, “May I have a compliment please?” Nine times out of 10 after I get scowled at, I’ll here some variation of, “You look pretty.” I do love to hear that, but I think the best compliments are the specific ones.
One of my smartest most awesomest friends is parenting two young children. He asks people not to say to them how pretty or cute they are. He doesn’t want anyone to tell them they’re smart either. He wants them to be praised specifically for what they do. For example, “Hey kid, that was smart problem solving when you ran out of crayons and used ketchup on the walls instead.” Or, “Hey kid, I like you’re ketchup painting. It’s pretty because it reminds me of a sunset.”
I told him his wife must feel so good, hearing his creative, thoughtful, and specific compliments. “Uh Oh,” he said. “I usually just tell her she’s pretty. And I do it in front of my kids! I’m going to fix that.”
I’m a sucker for the “you made me a better person” type compliment. In an episode of Sex and the City, Miranda shows up at her then ex boyfriend Steve’s bar opening. He’s there with his new beautiful girlfriend surrounded by well wishers. As she’s about the leave he runs after her and the following exchange takes place.
Steve: You came! I’m so glad. So, what do you think?
Miranda: I think… I think you did good.
Steve: Really? You mean it? ‘Cause I never would’ve done this, if it wasn’t for you.
Miranda: What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.
Steve: Are you kidding me? This whole thing was your idea. You always told me I should start my own bar. I never forgot. I just never thought that I could. So… thanks.
Miranda: You did good.
Yep, that’s pretty much my dream compliment situation.
This morning I was discussing compliments with my friend Natasha at a big “Going to that 3rd bar last night was probably a bad idea” Nation’s breakfast. I was chatting to her that I thought that men didn’t like to hear compliments about their appearance. She said that she thought that they did and then looked straight at me and said, “I think you’re amazing because you make people feel comfortable.” I couldn’t have asked for a better gift today.
Thanks Natasha, I love you.
And to all my friends and family Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for shining your light my way. You’re all so pretty and smart and make me a better person. You did good.