a student approached me after class the other day to tell me that he'd be absent next week. he would be attending his father's graduation from college. a number of appropriate reactions to this come to mind now, such as "congratulations!" or "that's wonderful" or "what a momentous occasion!" but instead, i managed to say what one normally reserves for puppies and other small furried creatures which is, "aw... how cute!" if he dropped out of my class right now for being patronizing and full of myself, i would have absolutely nothing to say in my defense.