The Parenting Art of Pretending Not to Know


Right now, I’m laying on the couch in my living room and Dylan is in the kitchen playing in the sink. I can hear him, but I can’t see him.

I know what he’s doing. And it’s not good.

He’s getting water all over himself. He’s getting water all over the floor. He’s emptying the soap dispenser. He’s spraying soap and/or water all over the window. In short, he’s turning the kitchen into a toddler’s waterpark playground.

I wasn’t paying attention when he first went in there and started playing. We were in the living room together, and then… huh, where’s Dylan?

I heard the water running and the silence that tells you your toddler is doing Really Important Toddler Work. This is usually known as “drawing on the walls”. Sometimes it’s “has discovered flour”. Today is just “water everywhere”.

I could have gotten up at that point. I’d go to Dylan, take him away from his very fun work, and try to redirect him elsewhere while I begrudgingly cleaned up.

Instead, I’m laying here writing this blog post.


Because the cleanup job will take about the same amount of time whether he plays for 5 minutes or 20.

I practice the gentle parenting art of pretending not to know.

I could get anxious and excited, jump up, hurry in there, fix things, regain control of my child and my kitchen.

Or… I could take a deep breath, remember that these years are so short, and just relax.

I’ll go in later after he’s had his fill.

I’ll get 20 minutes to myself, he’ll have a blast, and later we’ll joyfully clean up together.

It’s such a great reward for the simple act of pretending not to know for just a little while longer.

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