I have a strong memory of being young and running to my mom and tattling on a cousin who was younger and not as wonderfully behaved as I believed that I was. I don't think that I was tattling to get her in trouble as much as I was showing off... I knew that what she was doing was wrong. I knew the rules. My mom's answer to me was, "Is she bothering you?" No. "Is she hurting herself or anyone else?" Well, no. "Then let her be." At the time, I thought this was crazy talk. There were rules that needed to be followed. I honestly just figured that Mom was too lazy to do anything about it.
As I grew older and became the one in charge, I eventually learned the lesson that she was trying to teach me. I have remembered it many times while parenting my own children.
As I sit here with Pandora in my headphones, I am watching my mother remove the contents of a wastebasket and lay them out on the couch. She is sorting the items and neatly stacking them into piles. When I think she is through, she goes back and moves the piles and rearranges the stacks. My first impulse was to yell, "What are you doing?" But, then my mind traveled back to my childhood and I hear her voice, "Is she bothering you?" Yes, but I can look away. "Is she hurting herself or anyone else?" No. And I just let her be.