We've been working on this sharing thing for a while now - it's totally developmentally appropriate stuff and little boy takes great joy in passing his water bottle to sister and getting her a teddy bear vitamin each day.
But very early on, he learned that he could get toys from her (under the loophole of sharing) if she was distracted by something else. So when he wanted her book, he'd show her the car. When she reached for the car, he could technically take the book.
But she's older now and sometimes the two washclothes that were headed towards the bathroom shelf are something that she really wants to hold on to. And then for some reason they become something that little boy really wants to hold on to. And sister is not about to be distracted with any sort of car like the olden days.
So little boy takes them. She hollers. I "ahem" and he gives one back to her and says, "I'm sharing with sister".
But it's not quite sharing because he took BOTH and still has one. So I give The Look and he throws the washcloth DOWN the stairs AWAY from sister. I ask him to pick it up and give it back, "in one...two..." and he says, "No" (with a slight smile!). I get to three and ask him to take a time out to which he immediatly responds that he wants to say sorry to sister. Out of luck kiddo.
He takes a time out and then comes back up and plays merrily.
After dinner, he takes her plastic tiger (very distressing stuff) and threatens to throw it behind the sofa. (Is little boy not being sassy!!!) I do the eyebrows up, the chin down Look and start counting and lo and behold, he returns the toy at three. Close call!
And then, he's just fine.
But we really do struggle with what sharing is, what bullying is, what "mine" means because sometimes a toy is "mine" in the moment, but as soon as I pass it to you, it is "yours". These are big concepts that take lots of discussion and practice and feedback and I really wonder what magic words help kids figure it out.
It seems like when we tell a kid to "share" they think we are telling them "Give up something you want". It's hard stuff being a kid.
But as much as I think it's hard, I also think little boy has a pretty strong glimmer of right and wrong. Those little twinkling eyes and sassy behaviors scream of a little boy just testing what he can get away with. Oh, my dear sweet clever innocent boy is beginning to show signs of guile. I just have to have my wits about so I don't fall for the, "I'm just in the kitchen sharing tangerine - sister wants snack" ruse, while in reality he's giving her one piece and pocketing (because he's bound to pocket gross things like tangerine pieces) the rest.
And his retort will be, "Sister is smaller. She only neeeeeds one piece." Ha.
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