I write not to criticise but to praise. Saturday afternoon I was sitting in my office writing when Mrs S drew my attention to an email she had just received full of ‘Awesome’ and other superlatives commending her for a job well done. My good lady seemed somewhat stunned and cynical about the missive, automatically believing the sentiments contained to be a piss-take. Well, we are both British born, it kind of goes with the territory. “Can you read this Bill?” She said, handing over her iPad.
“It’s a bit OTT.” I remarked after a short perusal. “But accurate. You are officially awesome.” I gave her the tablet back.
“I find that hard to believe.” She rejoindered. We continued the conversation as she went into her bathroom.
“You shouldn’t. I know how good you are. Even when you were just one of the thousands working the teaching chalkface you were remarkable.” I pointed out, getting up to stand in the bathroom doorway as she washed her hands. “You forget, I saw the stats on your kids. I saw how you could get them up two grades and more in just one term. Even children others couldn’t be bothered with.”
“Well I’ve never thought of myself as more than ordinary.”
“But you are. Extraordinary.” I persisted. “Hell, I was just your backup when you were working ten hours a day at your job and then another eight having to requalify for your BC teachers permit back in 2010. I just kept you fed and watered.”
“You did more than that Bill, you kept me sane. You took the calls. Took care of business. Gave me a hug when I needed it. Did all my tech support.”
“Ach!” I protested. “That was just routine stuff.”
“But I still don’t think I’m anything but ordinary.”
“Rubbish!” I retorted. “You are so much more than that. I knew before we married how remarkable you are.”
“I’ve never thought of myself that way.”
“Well I have always thought of you that way.” I reiterated. “You’re better than you know. It’s blindingly obvious to me and I’m no genius..”
“Oh, Bill.” She said.
I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her close. “Look. You know I’d literally take a bullet for you. And the girls. What a great job you did with them. Look how they’ve turned out.”
“Yes, but you helped give them continuity.” She still won’t look me in the eyes until I make the effort to look right down into her face. I swear even then she tries to avoid my gaze. She’s embarrassed by the attention. My best girl has a terminal case of acute modesty.
“All right.” I concede. “We’re both a bit special. I’ve known that since the day that van driver tried to wipe me out on the Swindon Road and I didn’t even drop my bike.”
“Then that guy who…”
I pull her closer. “Enough.” I let her pull back and let her go. If she wants to list my misguided good deeds we’ll be here all week. Okay, I’m a bit of a Boy Scout, so sue me.
“I still don’t know how to answer that email.” She says.
“How about a simple thank you?” I suggest. “If it’s genuine, no one will mind.”
“Okay.” She disappears back to her office. There is a brief rattle of keys and an intake of breath as she hits ‘send’.
Half an hour later she gets a reply and all is well. Even so, such exaggerated praise does not sit well with her. At supper she seems distracted, out of sorts. Her inner world-view has obviously clipped the kerb. I know why this is. She thinks that whenever someone is that effusive it makes her wonder if she’s being set up for a fall. The fact that just occasionally they’re not adherents of Niccolo Machiavelli often comes as a shock to her belief system.
But I will repeat myself. My wife is an incredible woman. One who does an immense amount of good in her working life, every day. She also drives me nuts on a daily basis but she’s someone I couldn’t live without. I know how good she is and to me that’s all that counts. A thoughtful man should always praise his woman and be thankful for her to whatever deity happens to be his choice. Because a little gratitude in a relationship goes a long, long way. If I’ve managed to teach our two reprobates that simple lesson I can die happy.
P.S. The Lemon Tree seedlings are doing well.