Sometimes I wonder whether I overdo the praise.
Alex and Maya had been colouring in. Alex, in his usual focussed style, had worked hard to get the colours correct and all his colouring in the lines. Maya, being two, had scribbled randomly across the page.
I complimented Alex on his efforts.
"Good work, Maya," I added, commenting, "You've done purple all over yours."
Alex raised his eyebrows and leaned over conspiratorially, stage whispering to me, "Maya's is not really good work, Mum. It's actually pretty messy. Are you just saying that to make her feel happy?"
"Well it is good because she's tried to do a picture that she likes, and she is only 2..." I pointed out, trying to explain that I was commenting on the effort rather than the result.
On hearing this, he leant forward again and said to Maya, "Great work, Maya, that's really good work!"