A Lesson in Sharing

Saturday, January 14 & Sunday, January 15, 2012 

Relaxing in bed with my family on a quiet, Saturday morning is one of my simple pleasures in life. (It’s a good thing we have a king-size bed, because our family of four has grown to a family of seven with the addition of our three-year-old daughter, Bianca and our seven-month-old twins, Brooklynn and Brylee.) As my twins grow, I am amazed to watch their interaction. I mean, they shared a womb for nine months so I’m guessing they feel pretty close with one another, but for the most part there haven’t been any of those ‘twin’ moments where they babble back and forth, gaze at each other for long periods of time, or become upset when they are separated.

But I’m quickly learning how to tell when one of them is up to something, and their new favorite game is ‘steal the pacifier.’

Now Brylee is our paci baby. Even if she’s got one in her mouth, she usually has a spare in her grip. Brooklynn on the other hand could take it our leave it. She’s perfectly content once she gets her two middle fingers nestled in her mouth. Today is no exception. Brooklynn’s got her fingers, Brylee’s got her pacifier, and all is right with the world. Then I see Brooklynn’s eyes lock in on that purple pacifier in Brylee’s mouth and I know what’s coming. She reaches those tiny fingers out, shaking with determination. And then it happens. She steals the pacifier.

It takes Brylee a few seconds to realize what’s happened, She’s not confused or upset. She simply stretches her fingers out to get her pacifier back. Their little hands get tangled, no tears are shed though. It’s more of a combined effort to see which one will win the pacifier. (My husband calls this exchange a cat fight, but it’s much more subdued than that.)

Brylee finally gets her pacifier, Brooklynn finds her fingers, and all is once again right with the world.

 

One of the first life lessons we try to teach our children is sharing. Fortunately (or unfortunately), my twins have already mastered this skill. Chuck and I joke that our girls may not know how to crawl, walk or speak...but they know how to figure out who’s playing with the Glow Worm on the playmat.

This concept of sharing can often make parents feel uncomfortalbe or embarassed out in public. I know I worry people wonder about what kind of mother I am when they see Bianca fall to the ground in the midst of a complete melt-down because she doesn’t want another child to touch her crayons. (This actually happened...at a funeral no less.)

I worry people think I don’t disipline her enough, expose her to enough peer-to-peer activities, or worse...I worry people think she’s a bad kid.

Because the truth is (and I’m not just saying this because she’s my own), I have a very sweet, compassionate, loving child. She might withold hugs and ‘I love you’ as a form of defiance. She might have an anxiety attack because she thinks she’s lost Candyland (this has also actually happened). But if she sees me crying on the floor, she will come and kneel beside me and tell me everything will be okay as she wraps her tiny arms around me. She will randomly thank me for the most mundane of tasks, like fixing her breakfast or brushing her hair. She’s a good kid, whether she likes to share her babydoll or not.

So I got to thinking that while we teach our children that they have to share on the swingset at school, the bigger, more important element is to raise our children to put their emphasis in life on relationships instead of stuff.

We want our children to share their talents, love and support with the world. If they see a neighbor in need, we want our children to grow into the type of adults who willingly share their resources.

I’m sure I’ll still worry about Bianca when I watch her fall to the floor in a tantrum because she doesn’t want to release her grip on a friend’s toy. But after I cringe in embarassment I’ll try to quickly remember she’s only three.

For now it seems that my twins have more of a grasp on this whole sharing concept, but I’m interested to watch my girls grow and see how these early influences of sharing effect them as adults. While my twins are better at sharing as infants, I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t back-fire and lead to them being extremely territorial over their ‘stuff’ since they feel like they’ve never had anything to call their own.

And quite frankly, I’m not too concerned if my girls grow-up not wanting to share their clothes, shoes and jewelry...because I don’t really like to share these things either. Not because I don’t want people to be able to use my resources, but becasue I’m very particular about how I take care of theses things (this is a nice way of saying I have OCD.) However, if I see someone in need I’m ready to help with the ‘stuff’ in life that really matters...food, financial aide and friendship.

So let’s look at the concept of sharing more as sharing love, compassion and support and less about sharing ‘stuff.’