Thrives on neglectful behavior

“Thrives on neglect.”

This was the sign posted under a tray of cactuses and other succulents sold at a local farmers market. My friend had posted the picture to her social media as a statement of our times. How disgusting that “neglect” is now a selling point. But all I thought was, “Hot dog, that’s a plant I need!”

What a marvelous thing! Think of all the things that would positively impact our lives if only they thrived on neglect.

First and foremost, I’m getting a pony. Not a real horse, which requires constant care — with food, grooming, daily exercise and a pooper-scooper the size of a small truck. No! I mean the thrives-on-neglect pony. Moonbeam Sparklehooves would always be there for me to ride or brush her hair whenever I’m in the mood. She would sleep in my bed on cold nights and would be a hoot at slumber parties. Moonbeam Sparklehooves would come running over when I whistle for her, and the rest of the time… Huh, I don’t know where she would be the rest of the time. Not that it matters! She thrives on neglect! This is the perfect horse ownership that I envisioned when I was a kid and insisted on a pony for every birthday ever.

Next, I would like a diet that thrives on neglect. Not in a subsist-from-eating kind of way. That sounds terrible. This would be quite the opposite, actually. A thrives-on-neglect diet would be a diet plan fully ignored, but it would get astounding results.

Last week, a friend and I were out for lunch. She told me that she had begun juicing to lose weight. I told her that I was on a no-carb diet. It was great because I could indulge in all the other things I really love, such as cheese, as long as I steered clear of bread, pasta and cereal. My friend looked over at my plate of Thai noodle salad.

“Aren’t those noodles?” she asked.

“Ah, yes. I’ve started the ‘eating whatever delicious cheeses and fatty foods I want’ part of the diet. I just haven’t started the ‘restricting carbs’ part yet.”

“How’s that scale looking for you?” she asked.

“Not good.”

If that carb-free diet had been a thrives-on-neglect carb-free diet, I’d have easily lost 10 pounds.

I love the idea of a thrives-on-neglect world. My bank account would be soaring. I’d grow a vegetable garden, maybe even get a few chickens for fresh eggs. The car would be shipshape. And considering how infrequently my husband and I get a date night, our marriage would be used as an example in every relationship book. I’m not sure how neglecting the dishes piling up in my sink would thrive, but I’m willing to put it out there into the universe that thrives-on-neglect dishes would be very much appreciated.

Neglect is a marketing campaign directly aimed at me and my people — the people who are so preoccupied shining our light on the things we love that all else is left to wilt in the shadows.

There is, of course, no option of thrives-on-neglect children. Even if my kids would thrive, I wouldn’t. I need that relationship to be tended. And perhaps that’s the point.

I may love the idea of a pony, but my son wants to play “dinosaur” for the 7,000th time, so until we genetically manipulate a horse into scooping its own poop, I think we’ll just have to pass. The same for the garden. And the diet.

This morning, I was getting my son ready for his first theater performance. He plays Hunter No. 2 at the local children’s playhouse. I finished fitting his costume and was giving him tips on how to prepare for the big performance.

“Recite your lines in your head. Don’t get nervous. Pretend the audience is in silly underpants. Make sure you go potty before you go onstage–“

“Mom!” my son interrupted. “I’ll be fine. Leave me alone.” He walked toward the car and waited for my husband to drive him.

In that moment, my kid was definitely not thriving under my overwhelming non-neglect.

I walked around my house for a minute, unsure of what to do with these extra minutes. They had left earlier than usual.

Then I remembered our new and already neglected flower bed, and I filled up a pail.


Katie Langrock is a nationally

syndicated columnist.