The Poetry of Praise
I've never been one to care what people think of me. I have a reputation for either being greatly liked or greatly disliked. And the only time that I am bothered by the dislike is when people judge me before they've taken the time to know me.
I also get quite embarrassed when people praise me in front of others. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hearing compliments, but they make me a little uncomfortable. This is most fascinating considering that I am not always the most humble man around. A little cocky is the word on the street.
But this year I have needed to hear the compliments in order to keep going. Call it a Sophomore slump of confidence. I have had more moments when I've felt failure would best describe my classes. Too many students who haven't bought into what I've taught. Too many students whose skills have not progressed as I want. Yes, they've made progress, but I want perfection. And that is why the unexpected compliment of a former student still has me floating through the days.
I had dropped my wife off at the movie theater so she could hang out with her cousin. I was going back to the house to be dad to our one month old. As I was leaving, I noticed a young lady who had taken my Pre-College English class last year. I remember her at the beginning of the year, struggling to meet my expectations, but always asking how to improve.
We made our small talk; she was back from college; she was doing well. I took the opportunity to show off babyTate. And then, without prodding from me, she said, "Your class really helped me out this year." It was unexptected, and precisely what I needed at that moment. It was--poetry.