And what did you really mean?
The boys walked down to Blockbuster yesterday, and rented a few movies.
I arrived home from work last night to find them all lined up along the sofa, engrossed in No Country for Old Men.
At the end of the movie He-Who-Has-No-Nickname, feeling all warm and fuzzy, said "It's wonderful how you boys are starting to watch good movies."
A nice compliment on how their taste is developing? Well, no.
The night went pear-shaped.
Dreamer launched into a defensive tirade about how No-Nickname was wrong, and listing 'good' movies they'd watched before. Curly started in also, and everyone was talking over the top of everyone else.
Poor No-Nickname, who'd had a long day of chores* and kid-wrangling** while I'd been at work, lost it and went back at them for being ungrateful, interrupting, not letting him finish, and stomped off outside.
I was in a better place (having had a pleasantly quiet afternoon at work), and was left to pick up the pieces. Thank Maud for tag-team parenting.
Dreamer and I sat and talked.
I had to explain that 'starting to watch' meant 'starting in the last year or so', not 'starting now'.
Dreamer's eventual response, once he'd calmed down, was "Why didn't he SAY so, then?"
The explanations and calming took about half-an-hour. All over one, little, throw away, one sentence, compliment.
**Dreamer's friend C has been staying with us for most of the week. C is seventeen also, but has not been trained in the ancient arts of avoiding the piss-and-miss, or even in cleaning up if you make a mess, or opening the blinds in the bedroom in the morning and closing them before you go to sleep, or hanging up your towel after a shower instead of leaving it crumpled on the bed, or it might be a good idea to look for yesterday's towel before getting a fresh one from the cupboard, or ...
His mother asks us "Is he normal", and we say "No", but she doesn't believe us.
*Chores included getting the kids to help make dinner. It goes like: C would you slice the cheese please? OK. Dreamer, would you slice tomatoes please? OK. They both do exactly, precisely what they've been asked, and when your back is turned, drift silently out of the kitchen. You go and find them back on the Xbox, and ask them to come back to the kitchen, and they say "But I've done what I was asked."
Meanwhile, Speedy and Curly do their bits, then turn and ask "What do I do next?" And whinge later about how they always end up doing most of the work, which is true.