02/05/2009 10:06 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

25 Random Things About Parenting

I believe I have mentioned that I am a recent Facebook convert. In the last week, "25 Random Things" has taken off virally. It's a very simple premise.

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

For those of you unfamiliar with 'tagging,' I'd be happy to explain it to you. Once I figure it out myself. At first I thought it meant that your name was actually mentioned in the 'tagged' item. Then I thought, you know, I love Melinda Fishman but why would she talk about me in her 25 Random Things? I've now read dozens of these things and not a single person has mentioned my name in their list. So 'tagging' must be something different.

Frankly, having read some of these lists, I'm relieved.

The point of this random thing exercise is not to overthink it. Again, having read some of these, a bit more thinking appears to have been in order. But here they are - my 25 Random Things About Parenting.

1. The keys to getting babies to sleep at night include a lamp on a dimmer (too much light wakes them up) and a digital clock (so you and your spouse cannot argue about exactly how long the baby has been crying) .

2. When your young child asks you where he came from, start with offering her the location of the hospital where she was born. Might be all she is looking for.

3. When your teenager screams "I hate you," think about something else. I try to picture Julie Andrews dancing in her bedroom with the VonTrapp kids, yanking the curtains off the windows and singing "My Favorite Things."

4. When your son wants to give money to a homeless person, do not argue with him that the person may be a fraud. I did that once. It felt icky.

5. When arguing with your toddler about something insignificant - like when they are desperate for a pack of gum at CVS - just imagine that the dispute is about the car keys.

6. You have a right to pick through your kid's Halloween candy and pick out the stuff you like.

7. Never make your kid give up a 'blankie." No matter how disgusting it gets. I slept with a blankie and I still do. The world would be a calmer place if we all had blankies.

8. When screaming bloody murder at your kids in warmer weather, double check to see if the windows are open.

9. I used to complain about how I learned the birds/bees. It involved my mother showing me a box of Kotex. "Do you know what these are?" "Yes," I lied. That was pretty much it.

10. Having barely communicated anything to my kids about subject in #9 above (endlessly grateful for classroom sex-ed) I have a new found appreciation for my mother's approach.

11. Given the choice between saving money and spending money, children will always pick spending.

12. It takes so little to create a lifelong memory for your kids. Create a date night every other Thursday and do it for a few months. They will remember it as if you all did it for years and years.

13. Go to Netflix and put great old movies in the queue. Watch them with your kids. To this day, Paper Moon is still one of my 19 year old daughter's all time favorites.

14. See #13 above and do the same for your aging parent. Select either old movies or current movies that pass the "parenting" test (see #22). It can help get them through the cold weather and it can be nice to chat about the movie afterward. And even my mother has mastered a dvd player.

15. Make your kids think about charities. Give them the opportunity and responsibility to make a strategic decision to give money to a worthy cause. Give your kids some cash (even a little) for a birthday present with a list of 10 organizations. Ask him to pick 1 or 2. Make him do a little homework and make the selection.

16. Even if you can't stand the guidance counselor, try your very best to be nice. One nice handwritten thank you note for something (anything!) they did that was helpful will make a torturous process just a little easier.

17. When they fall down and go boom, don't gasp unless the situation calls for it.

18. Anyone can wipe your babies' bottom but only you can tell your teenagers they are being jerks.

19. If someone caught you on video, how would you feel? More importantly, would someone call Child Protective Services?

20. I was going to add something here about babysitters and/or au pairs but I couldn't narrow it down to one. Be on the lookout for "25 Random Things About Babysitters."

21. If anyone is able to find that clear distinction between helping someone with a term paper and actually doing the term paper, I can be reached at

22. Go to and click on "Parent Guide" on the sidebar when your kid indicates they want to see a particular film. You may not win the battle but if you cave, you'll understand just how irresponsible you are being.

23. Learn as early on as you possibly can what your kid's face and body looks like when they are not telling the truth.

24. If you can persuade your child to throw up at the registration desk at the emergency room, they will take you right in.

25. There is this foolproof way to make a baby or toddler weak with laughter. There is a sweet tickly spot just above the collar bone and below the jaw. One index finger in the right spot is all it takes. Have the video camera ready.