I had already dialed the phone to call my BFF to have a philosophical discussion on sharing when, on cue, my baby boy yanked away a truck from another boy's hand. As she answered the phone I was screaming across the park: CJ, can you share?? To which he looked at me like: woman, you must be crazy. That there is a dump truck. And. It's MINE.
She was already laughing at me. Mainly because most times when she answers the phone she's hollering at one of her children to not bite, hit, pour paint all over, or some other such thing to his brother. What had prompted the phone call was a fight between two boys over an item, right when we arrived at the park. One mother had ran over to referee and was saying, to each of them, "well, who had it first?"
I usually fall into that pretty easily. The justice approach. If a kid brought a toy from home, well than, he has every right to screech and yank right back a toy someone else tries to take. If a kid grabs a communal toy, first, even a millisecond before another kid, well then. He called dibbsies fair and square. One slight problem with the justice approach. It sort of misses the point.
The whole: who had it first, whose is it, etc, just focuses on one child at a time. The other is presumed right for reasons that often vary. Perhaps one kid did have it first. Perhaps that kid always has the toys first and never, ever shares. Should the kid that always shares always have to miss out on playing with said toys while the other squats on top of a huge stack: ha ha! You missed out! I got here first!!
So with presenting a problem, I will try to offer a solution. That comes not solely from me, but from some parenting book the title of which eludes me at the moment so please don't report me for plagiarism, I'm seriously just forgetful. How about both kids, when engaged in the tug-of-war over a toy, are wrong? That they need to be showing love and gently encouraged that the thing is not more important than the person and if need be the thing can be removed completely so the person can be more focused on the other.
This sounds great in theory but in practice of course is much harder. I first envisioned a room that was vacant of toys as they were all stacked along the upper shelf because they had been "removed." However, I tried it out when it was my turn to teach Sunday school a few months ago. Constantly chirping: "let's show love!" Sometimes an angry preschooler would growl: I don't wanna show love! At least they were honest, goodness knows little ones are great for that. A few, glorious, times though. There was a different response. A pause. A sincere look from one to the other. And: Yes teacher, I want to show love.
It was a start.