When I was very small, the worst word I knew was “hate.” I could get smacked for using it too freely or inap­pro­pri­ate­ly. Lat­er, I was taught the typ­i­cal tru­ism “if you can’t say any­thing nice, don’t say any­thing.” Once I’d processed that by being required to sit in a chair and think about man­ners a few times, I then became con­fused about the dif­fer­ence between a com­ment and a com­pli­ment. I under­stood per­fect­ly well what a com­pli­ment was, but a com­ment was a conun­drum. Appar­ent­ly a com­ment didn’t have to be com­pli­men­ta­ry. So to my tiny bina­ry mind, this cer­tain­ly meant that com­ments were not some­thing that was good.

It’s tod­dler log­ic, like the time I asked Mom to name every­thing that began with the let­ter m. Hey, Mom begins with m doesn’t it? She must know every­thing else that begins with m then.