Accepting Compliments!

So you know when you are growing up, the tiniest words of encouragement or approval that may come your way could prove to be life altering. Naturally, the opposite applies as well, but unfortunately, as parents we only realise how fundamentally our words can impact our children when little swines are old enough to have the audacity to tell us!!

I remember only one teacher pointing out to me that I was a lot smarter than I thought. Possibly because I spent so much time trying to be invisible, that the others had no idea that I was even their student. I just assumed that, as he was Lebanese, and I was dating my future husband, who was also Lebanese, it was just his way of saying ‘’howzit cuzzie.’’ So that was of course totally lost on me, and did not make any impact whatsoever. Well, other than the fact that I was shocked that he even knew I was his student!!

I remember my father on a daily basis telling me how wonderful I was…. brilliant….. beautiful…awesome…..he once even heard my friend and I singing in the car, and mentioned I had such an amazing voice, perhaps I would grow up to be a famous singer. Now people….believe you me…no….…I don’t. So, that too was lost on me, as I just assumed that he overdid the compliments to compensate for all my short comings. I actually used to get annoyed by all his praise and adoration. For that I am so sorry, and this is one of my big regrets when it comes to my dad, as I know that he knew his praise and adoration was not appreciated by me.

So, essentially, anyone who did compliment me, was argued away in my mind, instead of me using it to boost my confidence and self-esteem.

Honestly, the first time I believed any kind of compliment, was when I was needing to get a letter of recommendation from my ex- headmaster, in order to be admitted to the bar as an Attorney. It was six years after I had matriculated, and after requesting the letter, I assumed, without a shred of doubt, that it was going to be some generic letter, and that the headmaster literally would have had no cooking clue who he was writing about.

But on reading the letter, I was so pleasantly surprised. Each and everything in that letter was so specific to me, and it was so uplifting, that I had wished that he had told me at the time. Although….probably would have explained that away too!

So now we come to my condiments, Salt and Pepper, or more specifically Pepper… yes….again!! He really does hold the gold medal in providing content for a Blog!!

I have had huge, gushy and proud moments when it comes to my children, where I want to shout out from the rooftops about how proud I am of them…how much they have achieved….how I could not have asked for better children. Sometimes I have done exactly that, and I sensed that they felt the same way as I did, when my dad used to shower me with compliments. So, over the last few years, I have totally backed off. However, during the Covid chapter, more time spent as a family and more poignant conversations taking place, I have realised that my children have not necessarily been able to read my mind (idiots), and were not totally aware of how proud of them I actually was. The fact that I am snarky, sarcastic and condescending as a rule, might have aided this doubt in their minds. But come now?? You guys have lived with me for long enough to know me…to understand me….to read my mind??????

Anyway, I have actually moved off the actual topic, which was going to be what this here Blog was going to be written about. So let me remind you…..Pepper. Yes, my Pepper was his mother at school. Dissolved into cracks so that no one would even know he existed, and EVENTUALLY towards the end of his school career, got up to mischief that sometimes got him called into the Head’s office. We will call said Head ”Mr Shame”, for the purposes of this Blog. Now, Mr Shame was feared by the students, and not totally loved by all the parents either…..the ones whose hunny bunnies were never the culprits. I on the other hand, was the parent whose hunny bunnies were ALWAYS the culprits, unless they could provide me with a solid alibi, 4 eye witnesses and photographic evidence, to prove to the contrary!! Having said that, honestly, Salt was never in trouble at school. He just never worked very hard…..…or at all. Pepper was getting up to mischief regularly from about Grade 11.

But Mr Shame understood each child, no matter how different they were. Perhaps because they lost their dad so young, he felt he needed to assume a nurturing role in their lives. They of course were not even aware of it the time. He was so quietly watching out for them, that neither was I initially. They of course were not fans of his, as he was ‘’Mr Shame’’…he was feared and revered.

I never got a call from Mr Shame regarding Salt until Pepper left school. Either Pepper kept him too busy, or he was just trying not to over burden me with complaints. But the Salt calls were calls of concern. He was very fond of my Salty, but felt that he wasn’t reaching his amazing potential…you don’t say???? So he would find tasks for him to shine in, and shine he did….until the task was over, then Mr Shame would find yet another one.

But Pepper………..those calls (always on my way to fetch them from school), went something like this….

“Ummmmm…..Mrs Mummy….it is Mr Shame here….it is about Pepper. Shame, nothing serious…nothing to worry about….but….shame, you know Pepper always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time….”, he would say in a fairly timid voice, which I suspect was not the voice that the students knew or feared!!

What endeared Pepper to Mr Shame though, was his accountability and most of all his integrity. He NEVER revealed the names of his accomplices, never denied responsibility, and took his punishment like a man. This, for Mr Shame, was admirable, and the things Pepper had done were always according to him, ‘’boys being boys’’. And they really were…no one ever got harmed in the process, and he created a whole lot of memories to discuss with his children and grandchildren!

But overall, Mr Shame knew exactly how to treat each of my spices, and managed to see them through some pre and post pubescent crap (a lot of which I am sure I did not even know about), and I feel he needs to take more than a little credit for both my spices’ self esteem and confidence being boosted.

After my children left school, Mr Shame has every so often sent me a message to ask how my boys are, and to tell me what a good job I did in raising them. Now, the new me embraces compliments….sometimes. But every time I receive a message, I am amazed at how he continues supporting from the side lines.

When Pepper started his Articles, he joined Linkedin. He then said that he had received an email from someone at the firm (who had also attended the same school as Pepper years prior), to say that Mr Shame had told her that Pepper would be an asset to the firm, and that he holds my Pepper in high esteem. She then said she wants to arrange a meeting with Pepper, just so that they could have an introductory chat.

“OMG Pepper….isn’t that amazing…..isn’t this man a gem???’’ I gushed

“Well I kind of feel huge pressure on me now mom,’’ Pepper irritatingly mentioned. Although I did detect a bit of pride under the snarky comment.

Anyway, cut to Pepper getting his results for his first of two Board exams he has to write to qualify as an auditor. Yes, he passed….….was dying to shout from the rooftops, but remained mum, as did not think my Pepper wanted me to behave in such an undignified manner. Next morning I woke up to the most special message from Mr Shame, congratulating Pepper on passing the Boards, and telling me how my boys have grown into amazing young men, who he is extremely proud of. Well…….with tears in my eyes, I immediately forwarded this beautiful message on to my spices. Crickets…..….that is what I got….….crickets!! I summonsed Pepper, and asked him if he read the message, which he had.

‘’How special is that Pepper? I love this man! He just continues to be amazing!!’’ I said, expecting at the very least, a grunt from Pepper.

Crickets….I got crickets….

‘’Pepper??? How amazing is this man?” I prodded for SOME type of reaction.

‘’I am just a bit confused….how does he know I passed?’’

Wow……Pepper….just wow!!!!

Although, again  I did detect a bit of pride under the snarky comment.

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