So I told the kid this morning, “I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a girly story, you’re not going to care. In fact you won’t remotely be interested. But I want you to nod and smile and at the end say, ‘Oh, nice job.'”
He said, “Uh, okay.”
I said, “I want you to practice. ‘Oh, nice job.'”
He was silent.
“Say it,” I prompted.
He barely managed to not roll his eyes at me.
I said, “No, come on, practice. ‘Oh, nice job.'”
He said, voice dry, “I’m practicing in my head.”
I said, “‘Oh, nice job? You’re ready?”
He said, “Go.”
I told my story. It was a long story. It was a boring story. It was not something he would remotely care about. It required me to discuss clothing. At the end, I said brightly, “Okay, I’m done.”
He said, “I forgot what I’m supposed to say.”
“Dude!” I protested.
And then he paid me a nice compliment that both proved that he’d listened to my whole long tedious story but also that he’d paid attention yesterday when I told him a different story. It was a really sweet thing to say, delivered in his typical totally deadpan, matter-of-fact way, as if it wasn’t really a compliment, just a statement of fact (when really, it was much more on the side of ‘sweet and totally not true’.)
I was surprised and touched. So, of course, I said, “Oh, nice job.”
He grinned at me, and said, “That, too.”