I was reading her post this morning, and it kind of touched on something I've been thinking about for a long time. Back when I read this article and then the book, Nurture Shock, it got something percolating in my brain.
Compliments, praise. When are they real? When do they matter? When do they change our behavior? Our perception of ourselves? Our reaction to others?
How can a compliment mean something real to someone I care about? How can my own interaction with them matter more?
I thought about answering her question. I could answer half of it, my favorite compliment ever. But the second half has me stumped.
Do I give to others, the way I hope I do? Does what I say and think matter? Is it just lip service, or does it matter to them? Does what I really feel come across to them in what I say?
I don't know where I am going with this. I don't want to make any crazy vows, or promise to journal my meaningful interactions, or ask you to tell me how I've impacted you. That's not what this is about. But it's got me thinking.
Praise is such an interesting thing. It can mean the world to you, or it can mean the opposite of the intent. The timing can skew it to take on whole new meanings. Tone of voice, what happened earlier in the day, how you're feeling about yourself--anything can color it. It's so rare that the intended meaning is the perceived meaning. And yet, we all really need it. It's important.
I wonder if what I say to my girls will sink in. I hope they will grow to be strong and confident, that they will value themselves the way they deserve. I hope they won't succumb to the feelings that make them believe they are less than they are, because they are so very special. I hope I can be a part of their building up, an example to them of a strong, confident and loving person. I hope that on the days I am impatient or frustrated or downright angry they don't forget how wonderful they are and how much I love them and that it's not their fault. I hope that I am showing them that making a mistake does not make you a bad person. And that pooping in your pull-up may be irritating, but that Mommy still loves you and believes that you will be potty trained some day. I hope that they can see my joy, my pride, my love. I hope they can someday understand how much they have expanded my life.
And yet, the things that stick with them will probably be ones I don't remember doing. Some weird, random thing I say that I didn't even think about. Because we never quite know how what we say will impact someone, do we?
So, my favorite compliment ever. Yeah, you probably wouldn't expect it. It's not from my husband, or from my daughters. Had nothing to do with how I look, music I played or sang, or what kind of person I am. The person who said it likely has no idea that it meant so much to me, but it did.
"If they had a Lefse-Off, you would totally win!"
It just struck a chord. The right time, the right frame of mind, an achievement I really cared about. No grand pronouncement, but it really did mean a lot to me. Thanks, Katya. It still makes me smile.
(Note: Lefse is a Norwegian potato flatbread, very popular in the northern plains states of North and South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. It's a pain in the wazoo to make, takes a long time [2 days], and makes a real mess of your kitchen. But it is delicious, and I've tweaked my grandmothers' recipes in a way that makes it my own. I've never seen a Lefse-Off, but if I ever do--thanks to Katya--I will enter. And I'll win.)