Monday, May 18, 2009

Not a compliment?

Have you ever had someone say something to you that seemed like a compliment, but then later wondered if that's what it really was? This happened to me a lot in high school. People told me often that I looked "comfortable." I'm pretty sure that wasn't actually a compliment. Has anyone ever told you that? I doubt it.

Last week, I watched Squeaky Bean at a soccer game as she fell down, dropped her french fries on the asphalt, stood up, picked up her french fries and put them back in her mouth.

"At least you got your fries," I said. "Good girl."

The man standing next to me said, "You are a very laid back mother. Most of the moms I know would be freaking out."

"Yeah, well, I was one of six growing up. I'm pretty relaxed," I responded modestly, secretly feeling smug to have avoided the panicky 'new mom' stage.

About a minute later, I thought, "Maybe that's not a compliment."

What do you think?

At least it's better than getting a slightly cushioned criticism. Ever have someone say something completely rude to you and then add, "No offense," like those two words were a magic eraser for the awful thing they just said? I still remember riding the bus home from school in the springtime of my 4th grade year. I was wearing shorts, sitting on the sticky brown vinyl seat and my legs were shaking with the force of the bumpy road and diesel engine. That's when my friend turned to me and said, "Your legs are flopping like a flounder out of the water. No offense."


GrowingRopers said...

funny post. :) im pretty sure the guys was really giving you a compliment. and either way, it is a compliment...even if he didnt realize it :)

We Are A Happy Family said...

I think that being a laid back mom is definitely a good thing. Knowing not to stress over everything is a great talent. You are definitely a great mom because of it. I am sure that your kids appreciate it too.

Karen said...

I once had a guy come up to me in the airport just to let me know my baby was eating off the floor. I politely said, "Oh, thank you" and didn't mention that I was the one who put the food down on the airport floor for her in the first place.

dubby said...

Coming from a guy, that was a compliment. Guys HATE it when women freak out. Some women would think you weren't freaking like they would and might judge you, but probably not a guy.

I find annoying the number of people who step in to give unsolicited advice. I guess I look pretty stupid, but people felt they had to tell me how to raise my kids. On the SAME DAY I had one lady tell me my son's feet were going to get too hot in cotton socks in Florida and another tell me he needed shoes on as well as socks. He was three months old! I think they both had good intentions, so I try to keep it in that context. They are just trying to help. Ugh!

Zoo Keeper Mom said...

Gotta agree with dubby - from a guy, that was most definitely a compliment.

I am amazed that the flopping flounder line came out of the mouth of a 4th grader. wow.

I cannot think of my own examples - maybe it is because it is 1:46 a.m. and I should be in bed... but I do remember the compliment that surprised and pleased me the most. On my blog, another mom expecting twins (while I was expecting mine) said she thought I was so "zen" about looking forward to having a three year old boy and twin boys on the way. I never thought I would be cool enough for the word "zen", I guess. Ha! (I am not, actually, but she didn't need to know that!)

Love reading your blog, Jennie - I read every post, and am always entertained, if not educated.

I let you introduce me to some new music, and I have looked through your suggested reading material, too. What is a Thomas Jefferson Education about, in a nutshell?

geswinson said...

i must say, that's a pretty clever comment from a 4th grader :)

Old Man With a radio transmitter in his car said...

Yep, that was a compliment.

My culture's (the deep south of southern Georgia and the crackers of North Florida) version of the "no offense" postscript is "bless your little heart".

"Why, her nose is as big as that of a woolly mammoth with a cold, bless her little heart."

"Isn't that kid as ugly as an August grasshopper on a Chevy windshield, bless his little heart."

"The smell from her kitchen could be used to peel paint. If we could bottle it, we could solve Savannah's mosquito problem once and for all, bless her little heart."

Her little britches are so tight on her, his mama musta thought she's a newspaper and put a rubber band on her, bless her little heart."

"Why, that girl's chest is flatter than an armadillo out on Highway 17 after the Nascar race let out, bless her little heart."

Mike and Kelly said...

Totally a compliment. It was from a guy. They never are good at implied meanings. Mike fully believes in the 10 second rule for himself.