30 March 2011

What's Yours is Mine and What's Mine is Mine

What is it about us that makes us want what someone else has? That geeky guy crushing on you in high school science class didn't seem remotely attractive until he started dating someone else. Keeping up with the Joneses is a lifelong ambition for Americans. Guys are always comparing the size of their televisions. We all do it. And I'm discovering that its a phenomenon that starts early.

My two kids are struggling with toy envy. EC will mope around the living room telling me she's bored and that there is NOTHING to play with until LR plucks something from the toy bin and starts playing with it. Suddenly, it is the only thing that EC can think about and she'll risk everything to get her hands on it - timeouts included. This phenomenon is not limited to the older toddler. LR does the same thing. She wants nothing to do with her fleet of matchbox cars until EC has lined them all up and is racing them along the window sill. Then she screams and pitches a fit until they are returned to their rightful owner.

I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't have a financial crisis in this country if someone could find a cure for toy envy in toddlers. What is this need of ours to possess what belongs to another? Is it something biological? It must be something rooted very deep because my kids would sooner see the toy in question taken away and not played with by anyone than to simply wait their turn for a go with it.

I know that some people choose to just buy two of everything and solve the fighting that way, but I feel like that's cheating a little. The girls need to learn to share and they need to learn that sometimes someone else gets to have a cool new toy and we should be happy for them for our turn will come. I want EC and LR to learn that they aren't entitled to everything exactly when they want it - that sometimes in order to play with the really neato new toy that your sister got for her birthday, it will involve being nice, waiting your turn and appreciating the 10 minutes you get with it. Of course, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to teach this to them, because every time I have dinner with a trendy friend, I leave a little green at the swing of her skirt and the soft leather of her bag. How can I fight biology?

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