Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sharing

Saturday we attended a birthday party for the 2-year-old daughter of friends of ours. There were about 10 kids there under the age of 5. Besides the hosts of the party, most of the adults that attended I have only met once or twice in the past. So I did my best at PDP (Public Displays of Parenting), making sure Max took turns, did not push other kids and that he said “please” and “thank you” when appropriate.

I say PDP because sometimes I do not enforce certain rules at home. I know, I know, I am supposed to be consistent with parenting and teaching my children how to behave, but sometimes I don’t necessarily agree with the common rules of parenting. And sometimes, the punishment for an infraction of my rules may not be appropriate to do in front of strangers. And the reaction of my kid, to some of the punishments, may not be appropriate for a party type of atmosphere. Really, I do not think that other people at a party want to hear Maxfield screaming at the top of his lungs for 5 minutes while he sits in time out. It could put a damper on the festivities.

Anyway, Max was doing pretty well playing with the other kids at the party. At one point, while Max was playing with some Lego blocks another boy tried to grab some of the pieces from Max. There were a dozen or so other Lego blocks strewn on the floor that the boy could have played with but he wanted the ones in Max’s hands. Max pulled the blocks away from the boy and gave him a stern “No.” I watched as the other boy tried again to grab the blocks from Max. The other boy’s father was talking to someone else and did not see the incident. Max raised his voice and said “NO”.

Max’s elevated volume drew the boy’s father’s attention. The boy’s father only saw Max pulling the toys away. He did not see the boy grabbing at Max. In my opinion the other kid was wrong and this is where and I tried to intercede with PDP.

“Maxfield.” I said. “You should share.”

He looked up at me, and in a very reasonable tone said, “But Dad, I don’t want to.” He then made a motion with his arms as if to show me all the other blocks on the floor.

I thought for a second and realized he made a very good point. I tried to convince the other little boy that the other blocks were there for him to play with. The boy moved on to go and play with other toys.

While driving home from the party I mentioned the incident to Lauren, “What is sharing?” I asked. “It seems to me to be an abstract concept and that is difficult to teach. I agreed with Max that he shouldn’t have to share those blocks.”

Lauren responded, “It is nicety. A courtesy. A social skill that he needs to learn.”

“I get that. But it is not something that is appropriate in every circumstance. It is difficult to explain, in that situation, that he does not need to share.”

“But he should learn to share.” She said.

“But the way I look at it, if a total stranger came up to me and tried to take my car, I shouldn’t have to share. What if one of the fathers at that party wanted me to share YOU? Should I share?” I said trying to make my point.

The look Lauren gave me, made her point.

This parenting thing is tough.

21 comments:

Michelle said...

Honestly, I think you handled it correctly. I would have tried to the get other boy to see all the other blocks he could play with too. Maxfield didn't have to share in this instance but you did right mentioning that he should share.

Redhead Mommy said...

Yeah, I think you had it right on. I love the PDP bit. Isn't that what we do? It's like peer pressure for parents, isn't it? I've found myself doing the same thing, though: responding to my child in public differently than I would at home.

bbsgirl said...

you did what I would have done. That other child also needed to learn not to take things away from another person until they are done with it when there is more to go around.

Circus Kelli said...

Sharing is fine, IF the other boy would have ASKED politely, which he didn't.

SciFi Dad said...

and another possible blog source for swinger stories bites the dust...

j/k

I'd have to agree with the other comments here; there's a line between sharing and being a patsy. If the kid asked nicely then I would have pushed my daughter to share. However, letting the other kid use force? I'd probably have done what you did and diffused the situation with distraction.

Ern said...

Sharing is fine. Smacking bratty kids is more fun.

susie said...

I do the same thing. I also tend to make more of a blanket statement like "Hey guys, we need to share." Liam will assume I'm correcting him and I will hope it gets the other child's attention.

Chris H said...

Parenting is the hardest thing we will ever have to do, not only hard, but ongoing forever... and being fair and consistent are important. Sharing... is a hard concept for a little kid... but eventually they do learn the social niceties... as we all do. I wouldn't share my friggin car either..or my man! Unfortunately you are a man.... and killer looks from the wife come with the package.... get used to it! *ha ha ha*

eclectic said...

I think you handled it fine. In similar situations, I have used the old, "we're taking turns" approach to it. I just say to the aggressor, "Y'know, Carter is not finished with his turn playing with those. You can play with these while you wait for YOUR turn." Then I say to Carter, "This little boy is waiting for his turn, so you need to finish up and then let's go find something else to play with."

Patience said...

I don't like to share either. Sometimes I hide stuff so I don't have to share. Like chocolate.

Does that make me a bad person?!? Too bad. I don't care. I'm not sharing!

mcewen said...

Sure is tough. What seemed so simple and straight forward in theory [before kids] becomes so much more complicated when you have to deal with the real thing.
Great post.
Cheers

islandjen said...

I personally feel like sharing is totally bogus. Adults don't share anything. If you just walked up to your work mates desk and took their stapler- they'd be pissed and rightly so.
two year olds are right on the money.

kalki said...

What Ern said. That other kid was a total brat. And his dad clearly needs a little PDP training.

Scarlett Wanna Be said...

"Takers" freakin' suck. I went to pre-school with a "taker". She tried to get my cookies. Even though I am an adult, I still secretly dislike her with a burning passion! What you did was prevent Max from harboring bitterness for the rest of his life...good for you!!!

N said...

i try to take down notes when you write about parenting, but sometimes i just get totally confused.

sigh...

carrie said...

Oh, the sharing is so difficult.

I don't think children can understand the true concept of it until they have a grasp on what is really theirs and not theirs. They need to have a concrete idea of ownership and trust before they can just start sharing like the pros!

That said, I once read something in a parenting book that said "how would you like it if your friend came over for lunch, liked your dishes and wanted to take them home with her?". Makes sense when you put it that way! :)

Sooner or later - they'll get it.

Carrie

Wendy said...

I think I would be inclined to agree with your analogies, but for one thing: those blocks weren't Max's to begin with. You were at someone else's house, and those blocks belonged to the person whose party you were attending.

Obviously, the other little boy was wrong, though, and you handled it well, in my opinion.

Kami said...

Oh, parenting is so much fun.

t_cole said...

i've said it before...
i'll say it again.
i love lauren.
along with your mom - she ROCKS!

judypatooote said...

And that's just the beginning.....

Stepping Over the Junk said...

It might depend on who the guy is for her to be okay with it. I mean, if he looks like a young Robert Redford...