October 16, 2009

Please Stop Being So Nice

I can't go anywhere without my kids complimenting people. It's driving me nuts. True, it's probably my fault. I've tried to teach them to be nice to everyone and look for the good but things are getting out of control.

At first, they would just tell friends stuff like, "I like your shoes" or "cool necklace" but now it's gotten to the point where they roll down their windows in the car and shout out to strangers on the sidewalk stuff like, "YOU HAVE PRETTY HAIR" or "I LOVE YOUR DOG." We were at Costco the other day and my friend came up to say hello. Immediately, the girls started in.

"Nice watch."
"I love your bracelet."
"Your nail polish is beautiful."
"You have a pretty smile."
"I like your groceries."

I interrupted and said, "I'm sorry, my kids are compulsive complimenters." Her smile dimmed somewhat. I immediately knew I'd erred. Maybe my children's robotic compliments were the only ones she'd gotten that day. Had I just burst her bubble? Perhaps she was feeling insecure about her grocery choice that day. I tried to redeem myself, "not that you don't have nice fingernails... it's just that... they complement every..." I rolled to a stop, positive that anything that came out of my mouth after that would only do more damage.

So I've decided just to grit my teeth and bear it. Today we passed an elderly woman with shockingly blue hair in the parking lot of Walmart. My two year old ran up to her and went on and on about how great her hair was. I kept my mouth shut. Later in the store, they harassed some other poor woman complimenting her automatic wheelchair. Pixie, the four year old, is obsessed with men's belt buckles and any time we see a guy rockin' a Texas sized buckle on his belt, she gets all handsy and effusive and it's all I can do to keep her from pulling their pants down to get the buckle off. That one always ends up a little awkward.

I need to get over my issue with this. I can't stand an empty compliment but just because my kids are full of them, doesn't necessarily mean that they don't mean every word. So what do you think - do I need to become more like them or should I try and teach them a little more restraint? It's a weird issue. And it seems like there is an obvious answer - I just don't know what it is.


Janell said...

I'm guessing they're at the age where they really do mean that a person has beautiful nails and nice groceries. Besides, one would rather here a child's passing compliment than an upset child.

Perhaps when they get older you can explain to them the difference between polite compliments and meaningful compliments, but for now just wear your beautiful grin and be proud that you've raised your daughters too be kind girls.

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

I'm with Janell. I mean, it's so much better than them saying mean (true or untrue) things. They could be saying things like "Wow! You're old!" or "you're fat!" I'd much rather hear "pretty groceries" from a little doll. It would make me smile.

Colleen said...

Your girls are awesome. I say count your lucky stars that they aren't going around telling people they're overweight and fun stuff like that.

And Jim and I were discussing you last night. We decided that you need to write a book. So get on that. :)

Anonymous said...

i like your groceries. ha! that's rich. i will have to try that sometime.

Nancy Sabina said...

I think a "don't talk to strangers" lesson would fix all your problems. ...Er, I don't know about *all* - but maybe this one!

chattypatra said...

I too agree with your friend Janell. The world is full of rude and selfish people, as you well know. Your children are paying attention to the people around them and taking the time to say something nice. Since they are innocent angels, the words that come out of their mouths at those times are like a balm to those who receive the compliments. Believe me, children tell it like it is, and people know that. Let it be.

Boy Mom said...

Yeah! You're back! This better not be a tease like the last time.

Don't worry about the compliment stage it quickly fades into more annoying phases, like the repeat every rude thing you've ever heard a grown up say phase, and there are even worse ones then that.

Perla said...

i think you, and i, should try to be more like your daughters. probably as they get older, this will fade. but should it? i am always trying to focus on the good in people and trying to instill this in my kids, but i don't think i do it enough. one thing i realize that i do a lot is that i will *think* a nice compliment but i won't say it. sure, there are social boundaries that kids 4 and 2 can cross that we, as adults, should not. but really, i have found myself doing this often. i will think very nice things about somebody and who knows...maybe if i had taken the time to say those things it might have made their day a lot better. or they might think i'm weird. but still, i am going to remember this post and try harder to be more like p and c! i'm sure that they mean what they say.

kelsey said...

I would prefer this to what I'm currently dealing with from my 3 year old who screams "NOOOO!!!" and waves his hand as if to hit anyone who so much as looks his direction.

Mamie said...

I feel you, Kels.

Molly said...

I like your post.

bythelbs said...

My neighbor's daughter is like this. It kind of creeps me out. But I'm sure your kids just come off sweet and adorable.