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A Decade of Lessons in Parenting


Lesson #2: Ignore as Much as You Can

One evil winter week (I had an article due for this very magazine, we had three snow days in a row, my throat and head ached ominously, and my husband was out of town), I was so exhausted and dispirited that I went through several days on autopilot. Meanwhile, Zander and Thad were up to their usual tricks—throwing balls against the wall, moping around moaning that they were bored, wrestling while perilously balanced on the sofa, and singing obnoxious songs at the tops of their lungs.

Usually, this behavior catapults me into Instant Harpy Mode. But I was too busy guzzling ibuprofen, begging my editor for an extension, and complaining to my husband's voicemail to pay much attention to my irritating children. And guess what? No one lost an eye (or even broke a lamp). In fact, the kids entertained each other thoroughly (albeit annoyingly). On the third day, they built a giant fort with every pillow in the house—except the one I clutched over my head—and quietly played Uno for several hours straight.

The moral? The more I let go, the happier we'll all be. Unless someone has gone way beyond the limits of acceptable behavior, I try to visualize water rolling off my back instead of screaming bloody murder (just this minute, for example, Zander and Thad marched into my office braying into their kazoos. I kept typing, so they got bored and marched away). They love bothering me, but I really hate being a harpy. By failing to rise to their bait, I win.