Toddlers Sharing (Not!)
When my son was a toddler, we made a trip to visit with my college roommate and her twin boys, who were the same age. It'd been a long time since we'd seen each other and we were both new mothers, excited to show off our parenting skills and let our kids get to know each other.
Before the visit, I made a quick stop at the toy store for gifts for the twins. I also let my son pick out a couple of matchbox cars, which he'd been hauling around ever since. We arrived at her house, toys and gifts in hand, and were greeted the same way. Jules had gotten my son a cool wipe-away drawing board and we'd brought blocks for the twins.
Well, it turned out my son's matchbox cars were a bigger hit than the blocks and the twins glommed on to them almost immediately. Luckily, my son was a good sharer, despite his young age, and he was happy to hand over his coveted cars, distracted with other toys, while the twins played cars on the carpet. (I was so proud!)
After a nice visit, we started cleaning up to go home. We tossed the drawing board into the diaper bag and scouted around for the cars, which were—you guessed it—safely tucked away in the palms of the twins' hands.
At the realization that they'd have to give the cars up, both twins started crying. Here we were in their house and we'd brought toys—as far as they understood—for them! And now we were taking them away? Mean strangers!
I quickly decided that it'd be kinder to help my own son understand than to force my friend to do the same with her boys. I turned to my son and asked him if we could please leave the cars for the twins; that we'd buy him more soon. Surely he'd be OK with it—he was a good sharer, after all!
Well, not so much.
My son immediately burst into tears and now there were three toddlers crying and desperately wanting the cars that were, in their minds, rightfully theirs.
I felt sick in my stomach, but stuck to my guns despite my friend's protests. What else could I do? We said our tearful goodbyes and I loaded my car-less kid into his car seat.
I'd thought I was doing the right thing, but now I'm not at all sure. Was that too much to ask of a toddler? Is he going to hate me forever for making me give away something that was rightfully his? Will my parenting "skills" backfire, making him stingier with his things in the future? Even though I was trying to send the message that it's good to be a giver, I'm worried that I may have scarred my kid for life.