Friday, March 8, 2013

Sharing Sucks

I was giving my boys a bath the other night and my oldest was being particularly difficult.  He dumped a load of water on his brother's head, ripped toys out of his brother's hand and splashed all over the bathroom when I asked him to cut it out.  Once he settled, he told me that he was being crazy because he didn't want to take a bath,  he just wanted to snuggle with me.  "I understand, but you can tell me that instead of being crazy.  When you stop listening, it's hard to be around you.  It's not like you to be a bad listener," I told him. "I think you need to ease up, Mommy," he said matter of factly.  "I've had a pretty tough day."

And, to tell you the truth, he had.  My husband had left for a trip and we tried to fill the day with fun things.  My sister decided to drop by with her boys so that they could all play for awhile.  The 3, 4 and 5 year olds headed upstairs while my sister, my youngest and I picked out clothes for my upcoming vacation.  Then we heard a big big crash.

"Gavin," I heard my oldest say with a shaky voice.  "I worked for a very long time on that bridge track and you crashed it.  That was a mean thing and I am very mad.  Can you please fix it?"  Silence followed and my sister and I waited to see if they would work it out.  Instead we heard another crash then, "NOOOOO!!!  STOP!!!" and "HE PUSHED MEEEEE!!"

My nephews marched downstairs to rat out my son just like any cousin would do.  Gavin,3, started.  "Luke pushed me!"  Brody, 5, backed him up.  "He did, Mommy.  He pushed Gavin.  In the stomach," he added for emphasis.  "And what happened before that?" asked my sister wisely.  Both of her boys found something very interesting to stare at on the ceiling as they shifted their weight from one foot to another.  "What happened before that, guys?" she asked again.  "I crashed his track," said Gavin under his breath.  "But he pushed me, Mommy!" trying one last time for the sympathy vote.  "Yes, but he asked you nicely to fix it and you chose not to.  He wasn't right to push but you have to take care of other people's things."

We called all of them into the room to apologize, hug and move on to better activities like jumping on my newly made bed.  

I thought a lot about the events after they left.  I'm sure that you have been through a scenario just like this one many times before.  Sharing really does suck.  Even as an adult, I hate handing over my new clothes to my sister.  I think, "Oh, I hope she takes care of it.  I hope she reads the label and knows it is dry clean only. " But mostly I think, "I hope she gives it back to me."  Even in our 30's we are known to steal each other's clothes.  We humans really like our stuff.  Our kids are no different.  But the trick is to teach them how to deal with the disappointment when someone doesn't.

"I'll bet you were very upset when he crashed your track," I said to my son in the bath that night.  "What could you do next time when you feel very mad at someone for messing up something of yours?"  "Hit them or maybe ask a grown-up for help?"  He said tentatively.  "Hitting them isn't an option, babe.  But I will always help you when you need it.  No matter what, OK?" I said to him.  "Okay," he said.

And I will. Because I don't have an exact answer for him.  I don't have a script that will work in every situation.  But I do know all children learn by example and, over time, maybe he will pick up the nuances that happen between two individuals as they resolve conflict.  Maybe he will learn from us about sharing in a nice way.  But just in case, I'm hiding my new shoes before my sister comes over for dinner tonight.

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