Jeremy Stein - Journal

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I hate sharing

It was Camp Li-Lo-Li.  I believe I had just turned 8.  My brother Ben was 6.  We were “bunny campers” – children of staff too young for the regular program.  Our mother was running the bunny camp program for all the kids, including us.

On the porch of the bunny camp building was a big toy box.  In it, brother Ben and I discovered a train.  We were having a great time playing with it.  Another bunny camper, let’s call him Bratboy, ignored all the other available toys and insisted that he should also play with the train.  We demurred, but Bratboy escalated to the bunny camp director (our mother) who decided that we were required to share the toy.  This was not her usual tactic; I think she was trying to avoid the appearance of favoring us in disputes.  In passive-aggressive brilliance, we handed the toy over to Bratboy and went to find something else.

Later I remember seeing my mother resting from what I assume was a brat-fest-induced headache and she asked me if I thought it was unfair that I was required to share the toy.  I said it was.  She looked defeated.  I experienced a rare moment of feeling sympathy.

I think that many parents have felt torn when they see a child selfishly keeping something from a sibling.  I have always eschewed mandatory sharing.  In general, my children are allowed to be selfish and they may find that this has natural consequences.  It must be the capitalist in me.  Fortunately, we have a decent-sized free market of economic near substitute playmates.  A friend natural monopoly may require government regulation.

May 25, 2020 1 Comment.

One Comment

  1. Lori replied:

    Many times I have pondered,and felt wrong about requiring or even asking my children to share their toys that were, indeed, given to them as theirs. I was an only child. I didn’t have to share. And we DON’T live in a socialist society: they shouldn’t HAVE TO share, right?
    It GREATLY frustrates me though when my kids only suddenly have interest in a toy (that they haven’t picked up in weeks, months, longer) when I let someone else play with it.
    I am looking forward to seeing others weigh in.

    May 25th, 2020 at 4:15 pm. Permalink.

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