The first time I heard kid 1+1 say this to her sister, I was like, “awww, that is so cute!”
This response lasted for approximately 3 minutes. It soon became apparent that sharing is, indeed, caring, when kid 1+1 wants something that kid 1 has; however, it is not caring when kid 1+1 has something that someone else wants. At that point, sharing becomes something else entirely – something along the lines of nigh on impossible?
Let me nail my colours to the mast – nowadays, I can be something of a closet Joey Tribbiani when it comes to the apportionment of food. I have been known to raise a knife when a dinner partner has got a little too close to my sweet potato wedges, so I understand that it can be hard to share. But, as the eldest of 4 siblings, growing up I was made to share, and, as a mother, now I have to share. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I have, for example, given the kids their breakfast cereal, asked them if they would like some toast afterwards, they have declined, I’ve made toast for myself and then, suddenly, they want toast. As much as I would like to, I can’t very well punish them for their indecision by letting them watch me eat mine and then make theirs (or can I?), so I have to share what I have made and, if I can be bothered, which, inevitably, I can’t, make myself some more afterwards. So, hard as it may be, sharing is generally something that parents kind of have to get used to.
Now, I would be doing my daughters a disservice if I didn’t make it clear at this point that, sometimes, they do share. And, each time, I am always as shocked as I was the time before. It is so beautiful to see gorgeous kid 1 giving adorable kid 1+1 some of her crisps or letting her have a Match Attax card (only ever doubles mind, and albeit after kid 1+1 has kicked up an almighty stink, and kid 1 has shed at least a couple of tears, but it’s still a beautiful thing). I make sure they know how pleased and proud I am of their displays of benevolence.
And I’m sure you’ve witnessed the soft play centre/playground scuffles over that one toy/ride that everyone has to have. You must have seen that one child exhibit the steely determination not to give up on said toy/ride. You may have tutted at the child’s apparent selfishness, particularly when it’s at the expense of your own child, who has been moaning at you for at least 20 minutes about “that kid” who won’t let them have a go. You may even have approached the selfish little bugger and politely instructed him or her to “get off and let someone else have a go” (while ensuring that their parent’s veiw of this interaction is fully obscured, of course).
Ok, so, it seems we are generally good with the concept of sharing and we encourage it. But why? If we don’t necessarily like doing it, why should we? Should our children feel obliged to share? And to what extent should we insist that they share with their siblings and friends? Let me just think this over…
Now, I’m going to park the whole sharing of food for now, as I think that’s all about GREED and I will cover GREED another day. So, let me focus on the sharing of things – toys and other stuffs.
Picture this. A couple of kiddie friends (let’s call them Remi and Rebecca) are on a play date at Remi’s house. Rebecca finds Remi’s very special toy that he’s hidden (in plain sight) from any visitors and starts playing with it. Remi, who was playing with something else, suddenly realises his very special toy is in danger, tells Rebecca that she can’t play with it because “it’s mine!” and leans in to snatch it back (sound familiar?) Rebecca is momentarily stunned, but not enough to let go of the toy, and a tussle ensues. You (you’re Remi’s mum) hear the commotion, look up from your phone, can’t bear the noise and explain to Remi that “sharing is kind” and he should “let Rebecca have a play” with his very special toy, which was actually a birthday present, that you just paid a lot of money for. Why? Because it’s the nice thing to do or because you want a bit of peace? Remi starts screaming, you tell him that now no-one is going to play with the toy, snatch it from Rebecca’s grasp and send him to the naughty step. He ignores you and continues screaming. Rebecca finds another toy and sits happily playing by herself. Play date is a disaster. Sharing has failed.
Let’s now picture this. Samia invites Carol round to get ready at hers for their long-awaited night out together (You are Samia in this vignette, keep up). You guys haven’t been out on a proper girls’ night for, like, a year. You have been best friends since school. Carol spies your Black Valentino rockstud flats and starts squeezing her feet into them. Carol is a size 6.5 on a good day. You are a small size 6. I’ll leave you to choose your own ending, but sharing has failed.
There are obvious benefits to sharing. The recipent of the share – the sharee – is delighted that they have something that they wanted, or perhaps didn’t know they wanted, but once offered, realised they did actually want. The sharer feels all warm and fuzzy inside becasue they have done a nice thing and made someone happy, even if they didn’t necessarily want to do that nice thing in the first place. It makes the world a nicer place. It’s beautiful. It truly is.
What I’m saying is that it might be an idea not to force the whole sharing thing so much. Sure, explain sharing and talk to the kiddies about how they feel when someone won’t share with them as opposed to how they feel when someone will share with them. Perhaps even about how they feel when they have decided to share with a friend or sibling. I’m not saying that we should let our kids become brats. But, when they are getting into it, we could try letting them work things out for themselves. See what happens; they may just surprise us. There’s nothing wrong with having to play with something else every once in a while. Or just waiting until the other kid has finished with the toy/ride and it becomes available? Lord knows, I’m guilty of making the more compliant one of my 2 “just share with your sister”, but I’m going to make a conscious effort not to intervene so much now. I’m going to be less afraid of not sharing, because, well, Stalin. ‘Nough said.
Anyway, what do you think? To share or not to share? What are some of the ways you’ve tried to get your kids’ heads round the whole concept of sharing?