Toys are our children’s soul possessions of worth. They don’t have money, they don’t have cars, they don’t have technology. What they have are toys. To us they’re just toys but to our children they are everything.
Every day I find myself saying the words “share nicely” to either Miss Rose or Z, depending on which one is attempting to hoard a specific toy to which the other is protesting, or when we’re at assorted playgroups and other people’s children want to play with toys they are playing with.
If someone came to me and tried to take my phone from me, and someone told me I had to share, I would not be impressed. My phone is one of my most valued possessions, rightly or wrongly, and I do not consider handing it over to someone else, let alone a stranger, to be a light decision. I value my phone and nobody would ever expect me to just relinquish it because somebody else wanted a go. So why do I expect Miss Rose to happily allow others to take toys she values as highly as I value my phone?
If I was using a piece of equipment in the gym and working hard, feeling good, and someone came over and tried to snatch it away from me I would be miffed, to say the least. I would protest and assure them that once I had finished with that piece of equipment they would be free to use it, and I would be the one in the right. The snatcher would be condemned by other gym users. So why do I tell Miss Rose to let the other child take toys from her because it’s important to share?
If I was sitting in a restaurant eating a plate of pasta, as I am prone to doing, and another person came over and started shoving their hands into it and eating it, I would be outraged. I would get quite upset if my insistence they leave me and my food alone was met with anger on their part at my refusal to allow them to eat my food. If the person I was sat with told me to stop being selfish and let them have some I would be horrified and feel betrayed. So why do I insist Miss Rose lets other children stick their hands in her bags of crisps or pots of grapes when we’re at playgroup, and chastise her for objecting rather than the other child for stealing?
It isn’t fair. Sharing is not fair.
Some things are hers and that should be respected. If she is using a toy at a particular time that should be respected. If she values something highly, even if to adults it is just a bit of plastic or fluff, that should be respected. Her feelings should always be respected.
Sharing does not carry respect.
So what do we do? I don’t want her being a selfish child who hoards things and won’t play nicely.
At playgroups, where no child owns the toys, if she puts a toy down it is then the other child’s turn. So often she will put something down then protest because another child has picked it up, and that is not acceptable. What IS acceptable is protesting because another child has tried to force her to relinquish something she is still using. I shall defend her and ensure she is able to play with what she is playing with, but then ensure she knows that it is a matter of taking turns. Once she is finished, it is another child’s turn.
At home if there are certain items she treasures, her inflatable Spider-Man, her fluffy soft toy Sheep, if she is not willing to take turns then they are to be put away and only taken out when she is alone. Most toys are communal and the turn taking applies, but I respect that certain things are precious just to her, and in that respect she can keep them just for herself and on her own time. If they are found and taken, I shall gently, but firmly, remove them from the other child and place them away safely.
With regards to food I am unsure. We got to so many groups and if a bag of Pombears appears it’s like a homing missile for children within a five mile radius. If she opens them around children then I cannot expect her not to allow others to have one. What I can do is, should she object to them being shared out, explain to her that they will need to go back in the bag until she can eat them by herself. Individual food items, biscuits, apples etc, can be eaten by her and her alone and I can prevent others from taking them explaining they are hers.
So much of this comes down to respect. I demand respect from Miss Rose and when I feel she is not respecting me she is disciplined, and yet I worry I spend a great deal of time not offering her respect back in turn.
She is a human, yes a small and not fully developed one, but a human. Humans have rights, needs and wants. Humans deserve respect and understanding.
I shall make sincere efforts to ensure Miss Rose and her rights are respected. I shall not force her to share anything that I would not share the adult equivalent of.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!