Not fair!

The competition between the kids have reached new heights.

Let’s set the stage.

Between the two of them, the kids have access to over a hundred items consisting of toys, stuffies, art supplies, puzzles, and games. Depending on levels of creativity, this affords them anywhere between a thousand and a million different activities to choose from at any given time. Many things belong to Nashi, many belong to Papaya, and many things are shared. We also have a (relatively) big house. Oh, what a wonderful house for kids! Multiple bedrooms, an office, a playroom, a living room, a front yard, a driveway, a back yard, and a garage that’s been converted into a gym.

So how do these lucky, privileged kids take advantage of their #blessed life?

An example:

Papaya randomly decides to play with a pink scooter. Nashi runs over and announces he wants to play with it. Papaya starts screaming in response to Nashi’s newfound interest in the scooter. I provide them the good news that there are two (two!) other scooters to choose from. Nashi yells “it’s not fair that Papaya gets to use it and not me!” They’re both grabbing it now and trying to pull it away from each other. Thinking they didn’t hear the information I provided that would end this issue, I again inform them there are two other scooters available, both of which they’ve liked playing with. They don’t accept this information as having anything to do with the problem at hand, and now they’re in tears and screaming at each other. This whole scene, from the very beginning, took less than thirty seconds to reach this point. Prior to this, no discussion or interest from either one about a scooter.

Another example, in case my message isn’t clear:

Nashi randomly decides to walk over and play the piano. Papaya notices, gets up, and rushes over to get there first. Nashi blocks her and says “no, I was going to play! I was first!” Papaya starts shoving and drops this doozy: “Yeah but I was THINKING about playing!” More shoving, tears, and yelling.

I’m thinking it’s still not clear what I’m getting at here, so here’s a third example (it’s disturbingly easy to rattle off examples):

Papaya gets a new Kiwi Crate delivered in the mail. Nashi gets these too, but it’s on a different schedule so nothing for him at the moment. Mama helps open the box and gives both packages (there were two!) to Papaya. Two for Papaya and zero for Nashi. Now, if you’ve been reading carefully, you might be thinking “oh no, that’s not going to be fair!” And you’d be right.

But not in the way you might think.

Mama hands the beaten up cardboard box the packages came in to Nashi and he walks off with no new Kiwi Crates.

“No fair!” yells Papaya, “Nashi got a box and I didn’t!

That’s when Mama and I gave up on parenting and went straight to the bar.

Ok, we didn’t actually give up on parenting and go to the bar. Not yet. We read, we talked, and we asked for advice. We practiced patience and empathy. Instead of yelling “no fighting!” and expecting that to solve everything (already tried that many times, never works), we sat down and calmly helped. We listened. We validated feelings. We facilitated. We empowered. We became better parents.

The next time an issue arose, everything changed:

Thing 1 randomly decided to go for a shared toy, we’ll call it Arbitrary Shiny Object. Thing 2 decided that object was now the only thing in the world worth playing with at this point, the exact same object that was lying dormant and entirely available to play with for weeks on end. Thing 1 and Thing 2 start fighting over it and now it’s yelling and tears time.

Enter Hero Parent, stage left.

Hero Parent drops everything to tend to the new emergency over Arbitrary Shiny Object. Hero Parent spends five minutes calming everyone down, letting them know they will be heard and a solution will be found. Hero Parent then spends ten minutes listening to both sides, expending lots of energy hearing and validating their feelings. All while preventing further fighting based on their new outrage over the other one’s arguments. But peace is being maintained, even if it’s holding on by a thread. Hero Parent then spends fifteen minutes working through multiple options for sharing or taking turns. Many disagreements on the correct course of action, but progress is being made. A total of thirty minutes in all, shaving off at least three days from Hero Parent’s life, and everyone moves forward with a plan that is agreed upon. Thing 1 is to get the first turn with Arbitrary Shiny Object and Thing 2 moves on for now. Immediately after Thing 2 walks away, Thing 1 loses interest in Arbitrary Shiny Object, puts it down, and walks away. Hero Parent informs Thing 2 that Arbitrary Shiny Object is now available, to which the response is “nah, I don’t want to” and also moves on. Arbitrary Shiny Object is left behind, back to lying dormant, entirely available to play with yet again.

That’s when Mama and I actually gave up being parents.

Happy new years!

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