Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chasing Butterflies

Net in hand, my 9 year old son was on the hunt for butterflies to catch and place in his shoe-box home that he had made especially for the winged beauties. We had just purchased a new home and didn’t have much of a garden yet, but he had seen several butterflies passing through our backyard and decided that he was going to “create” a home for them. He had it all figured out with his little house that he had made complete with blankets for the beds and grass clippings for the floor. It was the perfect house in his little eyes. He spent about an hour searching the empty skies of the backyard with no luck in sight.  Just before lunch my son came into the house with his face covered in dirt and his shirt stained with grass from climbing around looking for these elusive butterflies. “No luck?” I asked. “Not exactly,” He said grimly. “But, I did find this butterfly sleeping in a sleeping bag.” As he lifted the lid of his butterfly house, inside was a limb that he had broken off with a small oval shaped cocoon attached to it. “I’m going to help this butterfly come out of his sleeping bag,” My son announced with authority.  “I will open up the bag and the butterfly will come out to his new home,” my son said with pride.  Trying not to laugh I motioned my son out the front door to sit with me on the front porch.  We sat on the steps with his butterfly home on his lap, and the cocoon or “sleeping bag” inside the temporary home.  I explained to him that the butterfly was in his cocoon and that if he was to help that butterfly out of his cocoon that the butterfly would be too weak to fly away on its own and would die. I explained that the fight that the butterfly fought to get out of his cocoon on just the right day is what gives the butterfly his strength to fly high above the trees to many faraway places and that if he helped it would only hurt the butterfly’s chances of survival.  My son soon understood that this butterfly must be on his own in order to face the struggle of freedom to greater things, so we went out to the place where he found the cocoon and I reattached it to the tree with some twine. I told him that we would check back in a week to see if the butterfly emerged out of his “Sleeping bag” and into the world. Sure enough, the following week we’d found the open cocoon so we knew that the butterfly had made the fight and was on his way to greater things.

Later on in his life, my son found out that he had to struggle on his own without my help. I had to stand back and let him fight his way out of a financial hardship so he could make it later on his own two feet. It was hard for me as a mom, but remembering this life-lesson that I shared with him some 11 years prior, I knew that he would be stronger for it in the future.  Helping out our children is a good thing, but as parents we have to weigh out each situation and determine whether it will hinder their future or help them.

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