“Daniel has a surprise,” Sarah told me on the phone. “Want to tell Lala?” she asked him.

“YES!” Daniel squealed.

There was much commotion–phone yanking and running around. And then quiet.

“Um…Lala?” he whispered, “I don’t know what it is.”

Sarah gave him a hint. Daniel burst out giggling.

“What is it?” I said. “You’ve got to tell me! I’m ready!”

“Okay,” Daniel cackled, struggling to get words out through all the hilarity. “LALA, I’M WEARING TWO PANTS! ON MY LEGS!”

It turns out that Daniel had faced some trials that morning. When it was almost time to leave for church, his parents questioned the outfit he’d picked out. Can you believe it?! IT WAS A PERFECT OUTFIT! WITH PERFECT SHORTS! Shorts that Daniel LOVES. Shorts that Daniel treasures.

But it was 43 degrees outside.

There were discussions. I’m guessing about weather. Seasons. What one wears in different times of the year so that one does not get frostbite or start sobbing in the parking lot because the wind is so cold.

There might have even been bargaining. Cajoling. Demanding. I don’t know–I wasn’t there. I’m just thinking about my own parenting, back when I expected my kids to do what I say when I said it. When I spent way too much time and energy and angst thinking about how to control them.

Sarah had a different idea. Daniel could wear his shorts. Sure! No problem!

He’d just need to wear long pants over them.

My daughter is a genius.

Everybody got what they wanted–without any tears. Why fight over dumb stuff?

It brought me back to a two word mantra I’ve been teaching myself for years now. It’s useful in all sorts of situations. If no one’s getting hurt, Let them.

My kids are grown. The only one I’m in charge of is me!

(I can always put on pants when necessary.)