January 25

No Bother Me

Many years ago I was having a conversation with my dear friend, the late Tina Lillig, about little things that upset us. Tina told me a wonderful story about her grandchildren. Her granddaughter, who was as I recall 6 or so,  always insisted on have things the way she wanted. She wanted her toys organized in certain ways and wanted to have games proceed according to her wishes. Her younger brother, however, was 3 and didn’t understand the big fuss. Whenever his older sister would launch into a tirade about why his way of playing was unacceptable to her, the boy would shrug his shoulders and respond, “No bother me.” Tina explained that she admired the little boy’s ability to not get drawn into an argument with his sister and do not be distracted by her histrionics.

I immediately went home and shared this story with Bill because it was really profound to me. How much of my life have I spent and how much energy have I wasted being that little girl? How much easier would life be to occasionally, when it was a fight that didn’t truly need to be fought, shrug my shoulders and respond, “No bother me.” “No bother me” became short-hand in our family for situations that are not worth our energies or as a way to understand someone who doesn’t care about a situation as much as we do. I think it’s a more powerful version of “choose your battles” because it’s a mantra that reminds me not to bother or distract myself with trivial concerns. With two teenage girls in our home at the moment, I frequently think of my dear friend Tina and thank her for sharing that story with me. Sometimes a wise friend’s words are worth their weight in gold.