April 30, 2013

The "But" Stops Here

RH, DD, and SI playing in the back yard
I have begun to realize how wise I must secretly be.

You see, I have all of these bits of information I try to pass on to my kids. Little ways of explaining things so that it all makes sense to them.

And I keep accidentally teaching myself things in the process.

For example, SI has a bit of a "but" problem. I'll say, "SI, I won't give you any ice cream right now because it's naptime." And she'll respond, "But I want a LOT of ice cream!" or, "But it's TUESDAY!" or, "But Fiona is an OGRE!"

And then there is simply no arguing with her. So one day, I decided to just make something up. Because as the parent, I'm entitled to simply fabricate excuses for why I do what I do.

She began butting me, and I held up a hand.

"SI, do you know what 'but' means?"

She stared at me as though I had never said anything so strange.

"'But' can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes, when people use that word, they mean your bottom. And sometimes, they really mean 'and,' like, 'I like potato chips but I also like waffles.' There is another thing that people mean when they say it, though. When you say 'but' to mommy, you're not using it in a good way. What you're really saying is, 'I don't want to hear what you're saying to me so I'm going to say what I want instead and pretend that they are connected somehow.' And they're not. It's just you, telling me that you are angry and you are not listening. Isn't that right?"

I could see her thinking about this, and finally she nodded. Believe it or not, she then went off and actually slept during naptime.

And the moment she left the room, it struck me. I was right. That is, in fact, exactly what most people mean when they say "but..."

I've heard it a million times in political arguments. I've said it a thousand times on the phone to my sister. To M. To myself.

I love this kid. No "but"s about it.
I've told SI a few times now that "but" isn't a word I want to hear. She already knows how I feel about "I can't," those are forbidden words in this house. Instead, DD and SI always know to repeat, "I will try." So now, what do I do about "but?"

I am trained to live in a "but" world. I say to myself, constantly, "I'm going to exercise in the morning... but I'm really tired, so instead I'll just eat light." "I should get those laundry baskets emptied... but I still haven't watched the season finale of Walking Dead." "There's a big bunch of strawberries in the fridge... but I want ice cream." (SI comes by it honestly.)

So now I'm catching myself. I hear myself say "but," and I feel suddenly ashamed. Like I have no business telling my kids how to behave. And at the same time I feel flabbergasted by this sudden wave of wisdom that I must have actually had all along.

The list of words banned at Casa SuperMommy is growing.

...but I'm still having South African chocolates for breakfast tomorrow.


  1. This is an excellent and timely reminder for a household of tweens too!

  2. SI was invoking the Chewbacca defense.

  3. Sigh... so true. For all of us. Way to guilt me into getting off the internet. THANKS. :)



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