Ands and Buts

Let me tell you a little story…

Once upon a time there was a girl named Sally. Sally was small and blonde and full of spunk. And Sally loved adventures with her favorite dog Chuck. One day, the dynamic duo found an enchanted forest full of wonder. And in that forest, the trees whispered stories from all the past travelers and one day they would whisper the story of Sally and Chuck. And with all the whispering trees and watching creatures, and streams of glitter, and rocks of candy, Sally and Chuck made their way. And when they came to a massive cliff overlooking miles and miles of the enchanted forest, Sally wondered if other travelers turned back when they came to the cliff. And the trees whispered, “There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky.”

And Sally asked, “What if I fall?” And when Sally looked at Chuck and Chuck looked at Sally, they took a deep breath and jumped! And when their feet left the ground they sprouted wings! And as they soared through the air, the trees whispered back, “Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

It was a sweet story, right? But it could have gone a little differently.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Sally. But Sally isn’t the only one in the story, there’s also her favorite dog Chuck. But Sally is kind of the main character. But Chuck is still important because they’re a dynamic duo that loves to go on adventures. But sometimes it’s hard to find adventures. But not today when the two of them found an enchanted forest full of wonder. But the wonder was lost on sweet Chuck. But it wasn’t lost on Sally who loved the whispering trees full of stories of past travelers. But the stories started to scare Sally and Chuck. But they couldn’t let that stop them from exploring the forest. But suddenly they came to a massive cliff overlooking the miles and miles of the enchanted forest making Sally wonder if the adventure was over. But Sally’s mischief kicked into high gear. But Chuck didn’t want to keep going.

But Sally couldn’t let her adventure be over, so she leapt off the cliff! But Chucked stayed behind and watched Sally fall through the air. But suddenly Sally sprouted wings! But her wings fell off! But Sally fell into a tree made of cotton candy. But it was so sticky that she got stuck. But that was okay because it tasted good.

And and but. Three letters make a big difference. The beautiful thing about “and” is that two things can exist at the same time. “But” negates whatever came first.

“It isn’t okay that your brother hit you AND it isn’t okay to hit him back.”

“It isn’t okay that your brother hit you, BUT it isn’t okay to hit him back.”

There’s only three letters difference, yet it changes the entire message. But makes it seem like the first half isn’t relevant, but it absolutely is (yes, I did just use “but”.) The first half is the part that really matters to your kid and they want it to matter to you too. Both matter. “And” matters. “And” is what validates your child when they are complaining about chores, or homework, or leaving the video games. Yes, it is the worst. Yes it is boring. Yes, I can see that you’re angry. And I still need you to do what I ask.

Living life in the world of “And” is an important and powerful lesson. It’s what gets us through school, helps us hold a job, and makes it possible to say to our loved one, “I’m so frustrated with you right now, I could pull out my hair AND I love you.” Both exist. Both are important. Both matter.

Your child has you at your wits end AND you can do it.

Your child’s behaviors have you confused beyond belief AND you can figure it out.

You are discouraged, hurt, and angry AND there is always hope.

You feel like your relationship is broken. Maybe it’s your relationship with your child, with your spouse, or maybe you yourself feel broken. And healing is possible.

                                                                                                                                               

There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky.

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

–Erin Hanson

*The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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