One of the more interesting things found tucked away within Charlie’s backpack a day after Valentine’s Day was a large pink heart-shaped piece of paper.
Charlie: Oh you found that? It’s a Compliment Heart…which we did on Valentine’s Day. Everyone had to write a compliment on each student’s heart in class.
Cassie: Charlie, this is so neat!
Charlie: Not really.
Charlie: I wrote things like how people are smart, or pretty, or funny on their hearts. A lot of people wrote that I was “talkative.” That’s not really a compliment. “Talkative”…..pfffft.
Cassie: I see other comments like “You’re a nice friend” and “Looking good.”
Charlie: Of course N—– is going to say I’m a nice friend because he’s part of the posse. We’re like brothers, Mom. And the girl who wrote “Looking good” then wrote “LOL” after…like it’s a joke. That’s not really a compliment, that’s an insult.
Cassie: There are some comments about how smart you are, I see.
Charlie: Yeah, I guess. A few. Way more comments about how I’m “talkative.” (He makes the quote signs with his fingers.)
Cassie: I see just as many about how funny you are. Does it hurt your feelings a little that so many of your class mates perceive you as quite a talker?
Charlie: Not really. It’s definitely a true thing about me. But this wasn’t supposed to be a Valentine’s Day heart with TRUTHS. It was supposed to be full of COMPLIMENTS. That one girl, N—-, she wrote “Vary good at not lissening.” She is incredibly annoying to me and she can’t spell.
Cassie: What did you write on her heart?
Charlie: I don’t remember. No, really, Mom. I don’t think I wrote anything on her heart because I didn’t have anything nice to say to her. What a pain!
Cassie: I notice that you’re starting to care what people think of you, Charlie…way more than you ever seemed to care before. Me thinks YOU are growing up. (Pause) Well, I agree that some of these truthful observations are not really compliments, but it’s interesting feedback. Constructive criticism.
Charlie: That’s not what you do on Valentine’s Day. Criticism. Only three people said I was smart. (Pause.) I’m VERY smart.
Cassie: Yes. And confident.
Charlie: Like I know the difference between a criticism and a compliment. I wrote a lot of nice things on everyone else’s hearts and I only get three “smarts.”
Cassie: Sometimes Valentine’s Day is not all it’s cracked up to be. It can fall short of expectations, you know? Let’s count how many compliments there are on how funny you are.
Charlie: I AM funny.
Cassie: You are.
Charlie: And smart.
Cassie: Yep. Maybe if you’re a little quieter, others will start to notice just how smart you are.
Charlie: YOU talk a lot, Mom.
Cassie: I know. I do. And it’s not always such a good thing, is it?Sometimes it’s better to listen. To be quiet. To think. To be smart…quietly. To just be. (Pause) I’m forty-six years old and I’m still learning to quiet down. You’re only nine. Imagine the power of starting to learn a wisdom like that at such a young age!
Charlie: Mom, you’re talking too much.
Cassie: Ha, ha, ha. Very funny. Do you want me to put this in your Valentine’s Day Card box?
Charlie: Guess so. I can look at it some day when I’m older… AND FAMOUS FROM ALL MY TALKING and it’ll make me laugh.
Cassie: I hope I’m there when you see this again somewhere down the line…so we can laugh about it together.
Charlie: Me too, Mom.