Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Share the Land

There were these two moms on the playground (and me) yesterday and one mom was telling the other how she'd chastised these parents on the beach last summer because the other parents' children didn't want her two-year-old son to join them in their sandcastle building."I told them they ought to teach their kids to share and that it was a public beach after all. I was just furious." She was furious too. I could hear how furious she was because I could hear her conversation perfectly clearly from well across the playground. But aside from being loud, was she right? Are other kids obliged to share the activity they are engaged in with anyone who asks to join? This sort of rule does apply at the elementary school level where at recess students can't exclude from their game other kids who want to join. Without making the focus of this post the school's rule let me just say I can see why the rule is in place and I have heard first-hand from my son about the rule's shortcomings, mainly that other kids want to join a game but not abide by the rules that the organizers of the game have already laid down, thus causing the game to fall apart. But back to the beach. I don't know the specifics of the incident such as how old the other kids were, did the little boy ask to join, or did his mom ask, and was he politely or rudely refused. Personally I think it's okay for a child to ask and another child to decline provided it's done politely. This is how things work at the preschool my twins attend. If you ask to join in with a child or children who are working on a puzzle, building a tower, or engaging in some other type of Montessori-established "work," the child who already has the work out can either say yes or "I'm working alone right now but you can have the blocks when I'm finished. "This would probably not work so well on a beach where children are unlikely to say "you can have our sandcastle when we're done with it," but as already noted by furious mom it was a public beach meaning surely there was enough sand to go around and anyone who wanted to could have built their own castle. Ecclesiastes should have included a verse on a time to share and a time to hoard. My kids know that at the library they have to share the toys because the toys there are the communal property of the library but I don't think kids should be forced to share - at all times - with anyone who asks. Isn't that likely to result in them resenting the whole idea of sharing? I especially don't think an older child should be forced, every time, to share a work in progress with a younger child who may inadvertently wreck it as in the case of the sandcastle and who knows maybe those two kids have younger siblings who weren't at the beach that day meaning this was one of the few days they could build an elaborate castle without the interference of a younger brother or sister. I know it's hard to see your child rejected by other kids. Believe me, I've seen my kids get the brush off, but generally speaking kids are more resilient than we give them credit for at least that's what I observe in my own children. Life isn't always going to hand you yeses, you've got to take the occasional no as well because it is only from a no that we'll learn to build our own sandcastles.

song: Share the Land • artist: The Guess Who


Audrey Humaciu said...

I love eavesdropping on park conversations. Especially because many people happily broadcast their opinions to everyone in a mile radius.

We had something similar happen to us at a "private" beach. Why it made a difference that it was a public or private beach, IDK. A girl 4-5 years older than my then 2 year old came over while we were playing and announced she was going to play with our sand toys with us. No parent in sight. Hubby grumbled, but I wouldn't let it ruin our vacation and let her join in as long as she didn't get too bossy.

Winnie said...

I enjoyed reading this. I agree they need to have the sharing in place at school or some kids would definately be on the sidelines looking in. The kids all share on the block (they know each other and their belongings will always end up home with them..). On vacation, if they are all playing, the naturally have the sharing mentality, so it is fine, but the parents must be present, as we can't be responsible, or left to babysit. Things can happen in a blink of an eye etc.