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.”