I usually save the contests for that other little blog o’ mine, but today I’m going to do one here. Just because. It’s at the end of this post. OH, THE SUSPENSE! Don’t hurt yourself!
It has long been our dinner tradition to go around the table and have each family member share the best and worst parts of his or her day. It’s not only a nice way to reconnect after the hubbub of daily life, but it provides a much-needed break from telling the kids to stop bickering or exhorting them to actually eat some of their food. Of course, some days it’s easier than others to come up with something to share. Occasionally a child will say “THE BEST PART OF MY DAY WAS” and then list off ten different things. This doesn’t quite conform to the rules and the standard definition of “best,” but I like it. Other times a child will say “THE WORST PART OF MY DAY WAS” and then list off ten different things, and then everyone cries. It’s an adventure, is my point.
Recently we’ve started a new game. We go around the table and pay each other compliments.
This is harder than it sounds. We designate a person and then the other three people are each to say something complimentary and SPECIFIC about them. It’s sort of a work-in-progress, as the children learn what’s acceptable and also what it means to really tune in rather than going for the easy line.
Too General: “You are awesome!”
(It’s a nice sentiment, but doesn’t really require much thought.)
Too General And Too Suck-Up-Ish: “You’re the greatest stepdad I’ve ever had!”
(Also a nice sentiment, but he’s the ONLY stepdad you’ve ever had. Also, your nose is brown.)
Less General But Sort of Backhandedly Teasing: “I really like the way you have NOT eaten ANY ANIMALS today!”
(Please do not taunt the vegetarian.)
Specific, Yet Disgusting: “You did a great job keeping all of your boogers inside your nose today!”
(I’m trying to eat, here. Seriously.)
Specific, Complimentary, Resulting In Happy Children: “I’m really proud of how conscientious you’ve been this week about practicing piano,” or “I love how polite you’ve been on the way to school, recently.”
(A little praise goes a long way, sometimes.)
Specific, But Goofy: “You made me laugh when you poked at the chicken in the pan and said you were trying to make it cluck.”
(Humor goes even further some days.)
Specific, But Mean: “It was awesome when you STOPPED TALKING and I didn’t have to listen to you anymore!”
(Clearly we still have some work to do….)
Anyway, we’re all enjoying it (with a few exceptions). Yesterday my compliment to Otto was that I loved that he asked me on a date in my blog comments. And then my daughter may have called us geeks. And she may have been right. See? Fun!
So! Let’s have a contest! I have a great big girl-crush on a writer named Kelly Corrigan, and you’ve probably run across this little video of her on YouTube and if you have a soul, you have a girl-crush on her, too. She’s the author of the New York Times Bestselling book The Middle Place, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should do so IMMEDIATELY.
Oh, hey—I have a signed copy to give away to one lucky reader! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave me a compliment in the comments by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009, and I will select the one I like the best as the book winner.
Extra special bonus: Starting at noon (Eastern), Kelly will be participating live in a chat about The Middle Place over at The Daily Grommet, so don’t miss your chance to “meet” her over there, too!
Okay, I hope you were paying attention to the little lesson about compliments, above. Heh.