Sunday, June 22, 2008

It is better to give than to make unnecessary purchases

Given the fact that Savannah is so far an only child, she has a large number of toys all to herself. Honestly, I don't feel that we buy her a lot of stuff, but by the time you combine the gifts received for Christmas and birthdays from grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, you've got a pretty good pile going.

So, as great as it is to have all of these these toys that beep and talk and sing, there is a downside.

There is no sharing involved.

She is almost 2 1/2 so I figured she is definitely old enough to understand the concept. So last week, as we played together, I thought I would attempt to impart to her the joys of sharing. Her absolute favorite thing is her stuffed Pooh Bear. That poor bear has been put through the wringer; he has been dragged by his appendages throughout the house, used as a sort of mop/scooter as she slides on top of him across my (dirty) kitchen floor, and has been smothered with kisses from a mouth that has not yet been washed after eating spaghetti. In other words, he has seen better days. But she loves him, despite his bedraggled appearance and the fact that he hasn't been yellow for at least the past year. In fact, the other day, I asked her what color his nose was; in his previous clean life it had been orange. She examined him studiously and then replied, "Purple!" And she wasn't that far off.

But enough about the ravages that have befallen Pooh. The point is, I figured that there was no better way to teach her about sharing than to have her willingly let me hold him for awhile. So it began. I explained the concept in simple terms, and she understood immediately. I know this because she said, "No! My Pooh Bear!" as she held him behind her back and out of reach.

I wanted it to be completely voluntary on her part; otherwise, there would be no actual heart change. We went over it again and again for the next 5 minutes until finally she relented. "Here you go, Mama," she said as she handed over her best friend. And then as I held him and hugged him and told her how happy I was that she was sharing with me, she got the biggest smile on her face as she announced, "I'm sharing!"

My heart swelled a little as I thought, What a bright little girl! She's picked up on it so quickly! And with her favorite toy! Surely sharing any other toy will be a piece of cake after this....she's got this down.

Ahem. Let's fast forward to last evening.

We babysat for Savannah's little friend and the sweetest boy in the world, EJ. They play very well together, even though he is a year younger, and they really love each other. But they are both toddlers, and as most toddlers are prone to do, what one has, the other wants.

Savannah's second favorite toy is her cell phone. It was sitting on the table, unnoticed by her, when EJ spotted it and made a beeline for it. He had just reached out for it when Savannah came running and grabbed it. "My phone!" she said emphatically as she backed away from EJ.

Scolding ensued. Then...Give it back to EJ, please. She looked at us defiantly, turned, and buried the phone underneath the chair. If I can't have it, nobody's going to get it.

Ok. So maybe she doesn't have it down yet. So much for my happy prideful bubble. I looked at her and mentally shook my head, thinking, Silly little selfish nature.

Then as I was thinking about this today, my mind suddenly snapped back to an incident that happened several months ago.

I was shopping at Kohls, a favorite store of mine because of the abundance of 80% off clearance that I find there. I was standing at one of the sale racks, rifling through the baby clothes. There was a woman on the opposite side of the rack, minding her own business. She suddenly came around to the side where I was standing, and she positioned herself in close proximity to me as she started searching through the hanging clothes. And when I say close proximity, I mean she was literally reaching across to shuffle through the clothes directly in front of me. I stayed where I was while still leaning away and trying to give her room. I had a cute little dress in my hand that I was inspecting. Suddenly with no warning, she muttered something in her own language (she didn't speak English), as she reached out and tried to grab the dress out of my hand. I was shocked, but hung on to it as I said, "Excuse me. I'm still looking at this."

Except it probably didn't come out as nicely as it looks on this page. Because, you know, of the tone I used.

She shrugged and kept on looking. I stayed for a minute more, then took off, dress in hand, under the guise of taking it to the self-scanning machine to find out the price. All the while huffing and puffing on the inside, I might add. How rude, how dare she do something like that! I kept an eye on her as I scanned it. $7.99. It was a cute dress, but I previously had no intention of buying it. Until Miss Lacking In Manners made a grab for it, that is.

But then I made up my mind. I'm going to buy this. I don't care. She's not getting it.

And with these mature thoughts seething through my brain, I took off for the registers to purchase it.

Oh yes I did.

Can we say silly little selfish nature? Ok, so what she did was obviously not right. But, response was not exactly exemplary, either. It felt good at the time, yes ma'am, but it was basically done out of spite, which shouldn't be the driving motivation for anything.

So I will attempt to teach Savannah these principles, while knowing that I have some serious room for improvement as well. And at 2 1/2, it's ok if she doesn't have it down perfectly.

'Cause at 31, apparently I don't either.


Jenn said...

We don't have the sharing game down at our house either and Lauren has 3 brothers. We are working on it, but most days I don't think there is any progress being made!

How true that even us adults have a selfish streak. Thanks for the reminder! I needed it after a long weekend of rescueing my niece and nephew from Lauren's death grip!

The Miles Family said...

Sharing! BLECH! What a tough lesson to learn!

My daughters are 5 1/2 and 15 months. Some days sharing is no problem at all and other days it is a nightmare!!

My oldest starts kindergarten in the fall... we've got a few things to work on before August rolls around! :)

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Now you've gotten me thinking about my own life and moments :)

Great post!

Wendi said...

Ahh yes, those lovely moments when we try to instill things into our children only to be shown how right there with them we are. It is so true. You articulated this very well! You are a very special mommy!

Kellie said...


This post is great. Having children is so humbling isn't it?

I can't believe that lady was so rude!

mamachristina said...

I probably would have done worse, I would have not spent money on an item I didn't really want, but so she couldn't have it I would have stashed it in the mens underwear dept.

Jennifer said...

That bugs me when someone gets in my space, like I should hurry up so they can find the good stuff. Sometimes I move, sometimes I stay put, it depends on if I'm feeling particularly confident that day!

Your post cracked me up!!!

Darcie said...

Granted, spite wasn't a good reason to do what you did.


I would have done the same thing. Shame on me.

ttm said...

HaHaHa! Little Savannah is so cute! As for what happened at Kohl's, oh you know I would not have let that woman have the dress! Unlike you however, I wouldn't have analyzed it and chalked it up to being selfish, I would have just been right! Ha!

Tracey said...

Don't feel bad....I probably would have done the same thing!

CarolinaMama said...

You are so right. Wow, we're right there right now. :) God Bless.

Kendra said...

lol that is a great story. I'm still laughing. :)

Elena said...

Great post! Entertaining and true. People like that gal at Khols who have very little social inhabitions are such characters! You don't know whether to get mad at them or laugh at them:)

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

Oh, thanks for the honesty. It made me laugh out loud. I get it. And right now, with my constantly squabbling 3 and 2-year-olds with their silly, selfish natures, I needed a laugh.

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

Our own little temper tantrums make us look at our children so differently, don't they?!?

Melissa said...

I love those moments when I go to point your finger at my kids and it, all by itself, turns around and points at me. Darn finger. :) Love this post.