I am not, under any circumstances, never, ever, not even in my sweetest fantasies, going to take any Major Awards for parenting. I mention that because this story is going to be about parenting, and I don’t want anybody to think that I don’t notice that it’s coming from a rather questionable source.
Even if I were perfectly even-tempered and unselfish (ha!), I have chosen to raise my babies off the grid, in a yurt, in the woods. With the wasps, the bears, the risk of forest fires. Also, without TV. Without iPods. Without allowances. How are they ever going to learn how to load a dishwasher?
You see? I speak from no pedestal. But, it could happen, even to me, that I might have something useful to offer one day. This one is about sharing.
It is comparison of any kind that makes my oldest start to fall apart. He is the fairness police. They get ice cream. Am I getting ice cream? Why do they get ice cream first? Will there be enough for me? And what about the toy? Do I get one? What about the costume? What about the –?
I know, I know, I recognize it, too. You don’t have to tell me. Scarcity.
I know well the irony of this. That my choice to escape scarcity mindset – running away from the rat race to live the simpler life — doubles up the pressure on my kid. I know this well because my mother once made choices very much like them. And I was seven years old once too. I remember.
I’m done, now, blaming my mother for these things. One, because I think Mommy Blaming is an old, dumb game, and I don’t like to play it. Two, because my mother made me who I am. And I know how to think for myself, play by myself, and live on the change I can find in between the couch cushions. There are worse legacies to have inherited.
But my mother isn’t here, now, when my son is feeling afraid, and I can see his throat tightening up, and the question of WHY goes very nicely in a blog, but I can’t put it in the right words fast enough to rest my little boy’s heart. He likes the mountain. He likes the yurt. But why don’t we go to the store and buy new things? Like everybody else?
If I stumbled on a balm for this, it was by accident. I don’t knock feelings of anger and frustration, when they come, because sometimes they help you break through to the next thing. One day, I was just incredibly frustrated with my children. The two older kids, just fighting all the time. And they used to be best friends. I didn’t know what had happened. I mean, sure, we moved across the country and had another baby and got a dog and stopped having running water and electricity. So, okay, some classic stressors. But it was something else, too. It was something else, about how we were dealing with our STUFF.
At the height of my frustration I made this announcement:
There is no longer any such thing as personal property in this house. That is ancient history. Henceforth and from this day forward, we share everything. And I mean, everything.
Then at dinnertime I made them share a plate.
They thought I was kidding. When they realized I wasn’t kidding they were furious. “We have to WHAT?…What if the other one eats it all?…Isn’t this germy?…Do we have to share A CUP?”
I was in no mood to be talked to about germs. I turned my back on them and fed their little sister.
Because my back was turned, I can’t say exactly for sure how they started laughing. It might have been when they started building a tower on their plate with forkfuls of rice and beans. It might have been when they remembered that one of them really likes potatoes and the other one really doesn’t, so that was going to work out. It might have been when they finished the drink in their cup and held it out to me, together, for a refill.
After dinner they played time travel, and together they owned several millennia, and shared continents wider than the planets. I felt a little less guilty, for not having bought each of them another toy.
This post was originally published at A Deeper Story.