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Let’s Share Your Mercedes

Andrew and I took Callum to the beach on Sunday and while the two of us lounged in our beach chairs, Callum played happily with his sand toys on the other side of the log. It was so sweet listening to him act out scenes with his dump truck and his excavator while he pushed buttons on his imagination rather than my iPhone.

The beach wasn’t that crowded. The day had started out quite cool and windy but Andrew and I pressed on with the hope that our menacing stares at the weather app would help to whisk away the dark clouds that were lurking around the edges. We must have super powers because before too long at all, the sun did the starfish into the blue sky and we were in the clear for a solid few hours of warmth. But before the curtain rose, a young couple and their toddler boy, wandering quite aimlessly, drowning themselves in the most circular conversations, made their way over into our space. I felt a bit of a shadow and heard Callum’s monologue pause so I opened my eyes to see them standing over us.

Hughey, those aren’t your toys!” she sang to her son. I was thinking, “Damn straight, they’re not!” but didn’t say anything. I just smiled, but if you looked closely, you could see my jaw working a bit on the right side. Then my sweet little Callum extended his hand and offered the kid his dump truck. “Ohhh, Huuuuuughey!!! That little boy gave you his dump truck!!!!!!!!! Can youuuuu sayyyyyy thank youuuu to the little boyyyyyyyy?!?!” she sang. Hughey grunted. And then my sweet little Callum snatched the dump truck right back. He then collected all of his sand toys, carried them in his arms awkwardly like he was holding a dozen puppies and announced quite loudly that he’d like to go home.

The couple nattered on about their feelings, probably gossiping about how so-and-so had the audacity to bring Yellowtail to last night’s Save the Dolphins party, and thankfully sidestepped their way down the beach until finally, Andrew and I could discuss how we were so justified in our right to not force Callum to share his toys with a complete stranger.

Like, okay. Real life. As adults, is there a situation where sharing our treasured things would be appropriate and expected? Of course there’s charity. I know, I know. But I’m talking about regular stuff. I wanted to ask Hughey’s mom if she’d share her debit card with me and spot me a hot dog. Of course I’d do that with friends and family, no doubt. But a complete stranger? HELL NO! So why are parents all into this thing where we force our kids to share their toys with each other? TRADE IN YOUR MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP MEMBERSHIP AND GO BUY YOUR OWN CHEAP PLASTIC DUMP TRUCK FROM THE DOLLAR STORE!

Am I wrong? Tell me!

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Gretchen June 8, 2017, 4:45 am

    I just love the fact that Callum offered it at first and snatched it back. Probably because the mom had an annoying voice and he changed his mind. That would have cracked me up! I feel like it’s important to learn to share, but also just as important to ask. Like if Hughey came over and asked Callum if he could play together, that would probably end differently then him coming over and taking the toy. Manners people!!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 6:33 am

      Yeah, he was hilarious. He has a kind and generous heart but like the rest of us, it only goes so far! Boundaries are a good thing, and he’s learning them early. I love it!

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run June 8, 2017, 5:18 am

    Did the little boy take the toy without asking? If so it’s good the mom pointed out the toys weren’t his to take. I get your point that I wouldn’t share something very expensive of mine to a complete stranger. But with kids I think it’s different since we are trying to teach them to play and get along with each other… hopefully EVENTUALLY without parent or teacher help. I mean you wouldn’t want to tell a kid “you don’t ever have to share your toys”. Obe n the other hand, a kid shouldn’t have to give up their prized possession to a stranger in the sandbox. There’s gotta be some middle ground, right? Like offering the little boy one of the other toys. Or maybe just let the kids work it out on their own even if it ends up with one not wanting to share and the other one feeling bad about it. I see at school all the time parents trying to horn in and fix everything so their kid doesn’t feel bad. (I don’t think you and the other mom did this at all, I think you allowed the situation to play out between the kids) It’s healthy for kids to feel bad about something and be able to move on from it. I am just glad the kids were out interacting with people and not inside in front of a screen. Kids need social skills and that means sometimes experiencing awkward situations.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 6:32 am

      YOU ARE SO RIGHT. Whenever we go to a park or whatever, Callum will often ask if he can bring his trains/trucks/etc and I’ll say sure, but that there will be lots of kids there that will probably take them! So he often leaves them at home or in the van but sometimes he WILL bring them to the park and then ya, he ends up sharing, or at least learning from the situation. I just can’t stand helicopter parenting in that nauseating voice. You know the one.

  • Jenny June 8, 2017, 6:06 am

    You were completely right. Forcing them to “share” doesn’t teach them how to be generous. Give them the space they need and they’ll work it out on their own. You’re doing great, keep it up.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 6:30 am

      Oooooh, good point! Teaching them about compassion and empathy would be far more useful! That makes sense. And then if they want to share, then great! But force-sharing can feel a bit—violating.

  • Ange // Cowgirl Runs June 8, 2017, 9:13 am

    Of course, now I’ll never be able to find it, but I read an AWESOME article about forced sharing and how ridiculous it is.
    Just because *I* have something you want, doesn’t mean I’m obligated to give it to you. *eyeroll*

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 11:36 am

      Yes! So, although at first I feel like a bit of a bitch, I know deep down that I’m not being mean–I’m being healthy, with healthy boundaries! That way when I *do* share my things, people know that they’re receiving something with intention, not haphazard neediness for approval or self worth or something.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes June 8, 2017, 10:11 am

    You are right – kids shouldn’t have to share their toys all the time! Forcing sharing is like forcing charitable giving – the obligation lessens the meaning. The intentions matter, not just the action. Sharing, like giving, should come from one’s own volition and generosity, and forcing someone to share doesn’t cultivate the virtue of generosity because virtue must always stem from free will. Like, Artistotle defines a virtue as a happy medium – so with generosity and sharing, you can have a deficit (never sharing or giving anything at all) or an excess (being a pushover who shares and gives against one’s one wishes until there’s nothing left). People nowadays seem to fall into the excess category.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 11:28 am

      I was worried that you were going to say people nowadays seem to fall into the former category and I was all poised and ready to jump up and shout, “NO WAY!” My experience, anyway, is that far too many of us get used and then go cold to cope, and then we’re essentially not really giving anything anyway, like you said. No free will. Oh, which means maybe we DO fall into the former category after all! We’re never really sharing or giving anything at all.

      Don’t ever let me join a philosophy group unless there’s drinking.

      • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes June 8, 2017, 3:37 pm

        Shouldn’t there always be drinking with philosophy? When you think about it, philosophy went to turd once they figured out clean drinking water. The best stuff is from when they all lived on beer and wine. In undergrad, we had Theology on Tap nights and in grad school, we’d go have our moral theology and our philosophy of God and humanity class at a bar sometimes (I kid you not).

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 3:40 pm

          LAURA! I don’t miss going to church but I really really miss discussing theology with people! Andrew isn’t able to talk about it with me just because he was never introduced to it. I’ve told him many times that it’s one thing that I feel hungry for, and really wish I could fill that void somehow. I could write about it but then it feels too preachy, and people will usually leave one comment and then that’s it, whereas I’d love to have a long discussion about it! You can tell how much I miss it, eh? What should I do?

          • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes June 9, 2017, 10:34 am

            SUZY, you should fill that void and foster your feminine genius! Write about it regardless of comments. Message me whenever you have a question or thought. I love to talk about theology and such and the discussions are the one thing I miss about grad school.

            • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 10, 2017, 6:26 pm

              I love how you called me (it) “feminine genius.” I may frame this comment and place it in our bedchambers.

  • Susie @ Suzlyfe June 8, 2017, 10:48 am

    I listened to a FASICINATING reading from a memoir by Lori (?) Anderson on Dinner Party Download that was about forced kissing (like your grandma telling you that you have to give a kiss later)–that it was the first time that the kid learns to kiss without feeling, or to kiss in exchange for something. That really struck me. This story reminds me of it!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 11:24 am

      Ah. Yes. SO interesting! See, I love studying human behaviour. Maybe not so much human psychology but more sociology. It’s always fascinated me.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home June 8, 2017, 2:34 pm

    I don’t know. I have mixed feelings on this. I don’t see the harm in encouraging sharing and playing together. It’s one big sandbox after all….

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 8, 2017, 3:06 pm

      BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GERMS?!?! Ha ha ha! Jk, jk.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets June 9, 2017, 7:14 am

    I’m somewhere in between on this one. I want Ave to learn empathy and kindness and sharing is a part of that. At the same time, I don’t want her to let people walk all over her and I wouldn’t share my cookie with my husband, much less a stranger. On the flip side, I don’t want her feeling entitled to every toy out there including the ones belonging to other kids. I feel like there needs to be something in the middle for this. Parenting is a tightrope.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 9, 2017, 7:53 am

      Ah, yes… balance is everything. In my experience there is just way more of the helicopter parenting going on where the parents force their kids’ hands in every single thing rather than standing back and fostering independence. Empathy doesn’t grow in a sandbox–it starts at home. So I guess my rant was a way of swinging the pendulum back over with the hope that it will settle somewhere in the middle.

  • Una June 11, 2017, 8:31 pm

    I’m not a fan of forced sharing, or giving up one’s turn in the guise of “sharing.” Sharing doesn’t mean that my turn is cut short. Sharing should be voluntarily and if you don’t feel like doing it, for whatever reason, then people should respect that.

    I don’t always want to share my feelings because I don’t feel comfortable, and if someone pressed the issue? Oh, hell no. If I don’t want to share my cookie with you, why should I? It might make me seem like a dick, but that’s my choice, isn’t it? Where is it written that just because you ask me to share, you should always get what you want? No.

    We’re encouraging Olivia to share, but if she doesn’t want to, we’re not forcing her. It’s nice to share but you don’t want to, that’s alright. The thing that we’re also trying to teach her is that it’s okay if other kids don’t want to share, either. Just because you ask for something, doesn’t mean that you’ll always get it. It’s important to know that.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com June 12, 2017, 9:43 am

      Your last two sentences are EVERYTHING. Helicopter parents do NOTHING for preparing their kids for the real world and all its disappointments so that once their kids get out there and experience letdown after letdown, they end up going off the deep end. Okay, well, kids eventually go off the deep end no matter what we do. Who am I kidding. I’m nearly 40 and I’m STILL half-drowning at sea.

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