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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Complimentary Complaints

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What flatterers say, try to make true. ~German Proverb

I find that I don’t know how to take a compliment. I was complimented some yesterday so this has been on my mind today.

Working where I do, at a detention center school, it’s important that the students have a lot of positive reinforcement when it is deserved and it is equally important, helpful and generally just an all around good idea for the students to be able to show their appreciation for those around them as well.

Towards this end, at the close of every term we have a little ceremony. The teachers give awards to the students for various achievements and then we bring some kind of food for the guys. Since they basically eat “school food” for 3 meals a day and are teenage boys, any kind of alternative to the regularly scheduled menu is always welcome. Since I like food, I have a lot of experience in preparing food and I have been a mother to teenage boys, I generally take on the task of bringing in the fun food.

This makes me very popular with the teenage boys….at least once every term anyway.

On the side of earning the compliment, I do try to make a good effort with the end of term food. We had the latest party yesterday morning so I (with Ebay’s help) spent several hours the night before making giant breakfast burritos. Last term we had a nacho bar, and the term before that I brought in J-Dawgs (which are some of the greatest hot dogs ever created). In short, I like to make these parties something the guys can look forward to - a break in the regimented detention center routine.

I believe that effort is important.

I’ve come to believe over the years that it is important to put as much effort as possible into programs for young people and for the young people to see the effort and hopefully realize and believe that they are worth it. And also hopefully remember to pass it on - you know, pay it forward someday.

So the guys are always enthusiastic and complimentary about the parties – which is just as it should be and I appreciate it, I really do. But strangely it also makes me uncomfortable. Even though I recently read some advice about how to graciously accept compliments (ironically on a website about social anxiety disorder) as weird as it sounds, I’d really almost rather just drop everything off and not come back till the next day. I’ve been thinking that perhaps I’m uncomfortable because secretly I know I’m really doing it all for me. Doing nice things for these guys, especially for these guys, makes me feel happy. It makes up for all the parts of my job that I don’t really like all that much. So yes, I spent hours cooking 5lbs of hashbrowns, 5 dozen eggs and 10lbs of sausage. But it also gave me an excuse to get away from thinking about the data entry and the spread sheets for a few hours. So guys, if you liked the burritos - I’m glad and the effort was worth it for me…and so are you.


Karen Peterson said...

It is so true. When it comes to doing things with and for kids, we owe it to them to give it our all. Not just so that they feel like they're worth it, but also so that they learn how to truly serve.

Kelly L said...

Getting the word out.. still and again for Haley - today she is in the hospital receiving yet again another blood transfusion - She needs a bone marrow transplant - Please go to her Facebook page and like it - if you can donate - Please say "I want to donate" and I will contact you with all you need. thank you - Kelly
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