Why is sharing so hard for a three year old? My three year old?
Last week she had a little friend over to play. It hadn’t been the easiest of days. A painful 4.00 am wakening by phone charger – being dragged over my scalp by leprechaun daughter squatting above my head. An hour of fidgeting, bed cover removing, hair pulling and complaining followed by snores at 5.30 by which time I was wide awake on the phone to my humble assistant trying to be a child psychologist.
The day continued…
The beaded curtain separating the bedroom from the ensuite soon bounced its individual beads over the bedroom floor. Plastic crockery spread over the kitchen floor, drawer of clothes over the beads in the bedroom, box of blocks in the sitting room and huge sack of toys and clothes, sorted to go to the British Heart Foundation, over the hall.
We left the house. Me grateful to turn my back on the mess, her screaming unwilling to put on her helmet, knickers, leggings, cardigan & coat.
We went to a toddler group – nowhere to park & lock the bike.
After we need to go to the butchers for minced beef. We park outside the Old Gaol high up on display to the world. I lift daughter off the bike and locked it up.
She drops to the ground splayed, gun victim style, on the paving slabs except she is screaming at the top of her voice for a sweetie in the gutter that she can’t reach.
The Old Gaol Buckingham – Bike Parking http://www.buckinghamvintage.co.uk
She refuses to walk.
I carry her uncooperative deadweight. We buy minced meat.
My daughter still refuses to walk.
We need a comb from Boots the chemists.
I carry my beautiful dangling puppet child. The minced meat flops between us cold soft banging against my legs. It’s bulging in it’s tiny flimsy plastic bag. The ends I’m holding stretch under the weight.
We reach Boots the chemists. She lies on her stomach to rearrange the bottom row of small bright packets.
She refuses to leave. I fake leaving and hide in the shampoo aisle. Why won’t she follow me out? She continues to rearrange the bottom shelf talking to herself. A circle of old ladies admire her helmet.
We leave. Me fuming. Her dangling placidly puppet style again.
Next shop has tables with colouring pencils layed out to entertain younger customers. She refuses to leave. I linger an embarrassingly long time looking at the spartan merchandise hoping she will get up and leave of her own volition without a tantrum.
Another little girl arrives and wants to draw on my daughter’s picture rather than on one of the 50 blank uncoloured pictures. Magic. My wish is granted. Daughter can’t get out of there fast enough picture held aloft. Semi-granted. She remembers the sweetie in the gutter and collapses prone screaming and flailing while I unlock the bike.
Colouring Session http://www.buckinghamvintage.co.uk
This all looks even worse because she’s wearing a voluminous fancy party dress complete with a huge net underskirt and pink bow.
I manhandle her into the bike seat and get home. She nods off against my back.
Her friend arrives with her nice young mummy and baby sister.
Daughter and friend bounce harmoniously on the trampoline for one minute.
They move to the double swings.
Daughter morphs from “Girl Who Cannot Walk” into “Girl Who Can Walk Fast but Can’t Share.”
“MINE!” screams daughter as her sweet gentle friend stretches her arms toward the second swing.
“MY DOLL!” as her friend touches one of a huge heap of dolls.
“I WANT THAT BAG!” as her friend picks up an abandoned red Winnie the Poo bag. This continues for half an hour. MINE…MY SPECIAL…MY FAVOURITE… I WANTED TO PLAY WITH THAT ..MINE…MINE…MINE…MINE!! about everything her friend reaches to play with. Waaaah Waaahh tears squirt out of control.
I’m so embarrassed apologising with every breath. I desperately intervene, plead, explain, cajole, wrestle, divert. I’m ineffective. My clucking about sharing, turn-taking, being nice to her friends does not register. She doesn’t care about reciprocal playing with friends’ toys at their houses. She does not want to be kind or nice or share. Most of all she DOES NOT WANT TO SHARE and she does not care whether anyone ever wants to play with her again.
What is wrong with her? Daughter continues to attempt to grab toy after toy from her friend. Soon she’s screaming at top volume on the floor arms and legs going like the clappers. Another full on tantrum.
This is a new experience for me. Her four closely spaced brothers operated as a pack and shared automatically. I never gave it a second thought.
They did have one friend they didn’t like visiting because he behaved exactly like my daughter. Now many years too late I understand how his mum felt.
Here in the present there was one last scuffle over a conker – a shrivelled dry conker from the giant pile of conkers she’d collected the week before. Nice young inexperienced mummy stepped in and announced that they would be leaving as my daughter would not share (and quietly to me that they would return the following week). Thier departure shocked my daughter into even more crying.
We talked a lot about sharing that week. About how it’s not much fun going to play with someone who screams at you every time you move.
Her friend returned to play this week. Daughter was surprised and delighted to see her and, I’m relieved to say, shared her heart out beautifully all afternoon.
Old experienced mum of five has learned a valuable lesson from young inexperienced mum of two.