On Monday, when TLM and I were visiting my mother, I commented to my mother how good TLM was to wear her sunhat the whole time she was outside. And in exactly that precise moment that I uttered those words, TLM knocked off her sunhat and refused to put it back on. Mum's response was that I should never have praised TLM in the first place.
For years, my mother never praised me for things that might have deserved it. When I won school prizes or got A's, she always sounded like it was the least I could do to thank her for raising me. At first, I thought it was because she was simply impossibly hard to please. But I talked to family friends and learned a little about customs of Old China. Chinese kids are told they're lazy, stupid or ugly because it protects them from being kidnapped by evil spirits, who'd much prefer a cute, clever and diligent child.
After Monday though, I know the real reason my mum avoids saying nice things about me. She's just trying to cheat Murphy's Law.