Saturday, 4 June 2016

Praise Be

I was struck by a few things watching Graham Norton last night. I had always thought highly of Salma Hayek and in quizzes I regularly reply that if I was lucky she would play me in a movie of my life (I wish !) However, my opinion of her has dimmed since she blanked the adorable Tamsin Grieg -  a mortal sin - then every story she told was about how kind or beautiful she is. Kelsey Grammer was marginally less vainglorious, but it's just not the done thing is it ? I know if you are a big movie star you are allowed some vanity, we've all seen Tom Cruise do the whole 'let me phone your Mum' schtick so many times now at movie premieres haven't we ? The last time we saw a similar sofa snub was when Emily Blunt was on the same show as Charlize Theron who just ignored her completely. Typically english Em carried on as normal - as did Tamsin - and I love them both all the more for it. I find self deprecating is so much more palatable than that self important, "don't you know who I am ?"

I realise that all this comes hard on the heels of the passing of Mohammed Ali who has been described in many obituaries as 'confident,' 'brash' and 'a character.' What he did was refuse to be deferential in the face of institutional racism. He was born and raised in a country still coping with collective guilt about slavery and his delivery was poetry crossed with preaching. While he boasted he also made the case for every other black person in America who was not given the platform he had. Mohammed Ali did not wait to be complimented he made bold, arrogant statements about himself knowing that it would cause consternation. He never gave the impression he was seeking approval.

In real life if someone pays you a compliment you're not supposed to say, "Oh my hair ? Well, I'm just glad it doesn't make my face look chubby." Instead of, "Thanks, yes it does suit me doesn't it ?" Similarly when I was asked recently what I do I said, "Oh nothing really, I'm taking care of the boys at the moment." At which my friend interjected with the things I actually do and I still dismissed it as nothing really. 

I've been taking a course about behaviour management and recently we have been covering how to receive and give praise. I'm phenomenally embarrassed by praise. I find it cringeworthy, yet I love to compliment others on their appearance or skills or kindness. Is it a failing that I won't believe a compliment directed at me ? My self doubts seem based on pretty secure evidence to me. I mean I'm the one who is there when I shout at my kids, or refuse to give in despite tears, stamping feet, clenched fists and red faces. I swear in front of them, I close doors to shut out their noise and I pinch their chocolate when they're in bed. So if someone who's only just met me says I'm a great mum who clearly loves my kids I'm hardly going to believe them am I ? What do they know ? 

I know I look like a lumpy bag of old clothes with bingo wings and dark circles under my eyes. It would challenge Gok Wan to coax out the inner goddess from under all that. Not that my appearance is really my main concern at this point. Keeping the peace between the boys and keeping myself sane is my priority. If I can do those two things then maybe I'll boast about my brilliance.

Nah, I don't think so. Oh well, I'd better think of someone else to play me in a movie of my life. 

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