I think it was Stephen Cobert who I heard say it, “the Muppets are radical Marxists!” I laughed at the time, I didn’t have kids then. But now it’s got me thinking…
Yes sharing is great, it is ingrained in us to teach our children to share, but we also live in a Capitalist society. Surely we have to draw the line somewhere?
We have a rule in our house – if you take a toy to a public play area you have to share it. Parks are for everyone, so if my kids take their toys along and leave them lying on the ground they are fair game. And they are pretty good about it.
A few weeks back my son took a digger along to the park. Someone wanted to play with it and he kindly handed it over, he was more interested in climbing. But about half an hour later just about everyone had played with his digger except him, and he wanted it back. He went and asked the kid who had it and when he said ‘no’ my son’s friend (he could learn a thing or two from her about assertiveness) said ‘its his he wants it back’ and retrieved it for my son. The kid’s mom saw this and stepped in saying ‘he’s playing with that now you can have it when he’s done’.
Wait a minute. Yes we like to teach our kids to share but as adults would we consider this normal? If a stranger wanted to borrow our car would we be ok with it? If we said ‘no I need it to get to work’ would a ‘you’ve got to learn to share mate’ be acceptable? I’m really non-confrontational, I wanted to say ‘let him have it for a bit’ but the mom in me knew that this was unjust for my son. He had shared well, he did not know the kid, and at the end of the day it was his. After an awkward silence she mumbled about not knowing it was his and relented. I felt awful but my son looked relieved.
The situation reminds me of another maybe 8 years ago when my own mother had just started fostering a little girl. She had walked into a store’s play area with a box of those things you throw and they pop. Two boys had approached her and demanded she share with them. Growing up in a children’s home she was no stranger to asserting herself and told the two much older kids ‘no’. They raced to my mom shouting ‘she won’t share with us’ beaming with entitlement. My mom, in her years of experience mothering, didn’t miss a beat telling them ‘she doesn’t know you, she doesn’t have to share’! I didn’t have kids yet but I instinctively knew something big had just gone down. Our little girl who didn’t have anything of her own at that time, who had to share everything, needed to know that it was ok not to share more than those boys needed what she had.
With so much parenting advice out there you would think that we would have all the answers. But real life isn’t written on paper. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut, go against the parenting advice en-vogue, and do the non-p.c. thing. Sometimes you have to admit that just maybe the Muppets are radical Marxists.