I'm not Sting but I spent an entire day telling my four-year old that if he loved the butterfly his teacher gave him, he had to set it free.
From the moment he got the butterfly in the jar, he was determined to keep it, "forever and ever and ever." His exact words.
"We can keep her overnight and set her free in the morning," I offered.
"No! Forever and ever and ever," he reiterated.
I realized this life lesson was going to be harder for him to digest than the death of his pet hermit crab - he wasn't fazed by that at all. But how could anyone release a poor, helpless butterfly into the big city? He glared at me as if I were the Taliban. I decided to say no more until after we got her home.
He named her Sally. She did homework with us, had dinner and even slept in the boys' bedroom. Then the next morning he told me he changed his mind - he wanted to set her free before we left for school. I don't know what came over him but we had to act fast before his big brother grew attached to it.
For some reason, it turned into one of those small experiences that was deeply satisfying. Unexplainable because it's so simple but representative of life in so many ways. You love something, set it free.
Without further ado, fly Sally, fly.