The toy nobody wants until somebody wants it

– I want to play with this toy.
– Me too. I just picked it up myself.
– I want it now!
– I’ll give it to you in a few minutes.

I heard this conversation at the camp. I was actually impressed with hearing “not yet” from a little kid. It is the right, healthy answer. Though, for the sake of appeasement, a meddling parent would intervene and give the requested toy to the new kid. But that would teach instant gratification instead of patience. Or the fact that we don’t always get what we want. In life there is rarely a cut and dry answer to sharing. There is always more room for grace, for learning, for generosity. And learning it all in not always easy.

As an adult I would feel anxiety at the thought that someone (unable to read social queues, entitled or self-centered) would demand from me something that I wouldn’t be quite ready to give… In all honesty, as a young adult I didn’t like kids, many kids, most other people’s kids.

As a kid myself, my right to keep my turn, my lane, my toys, or my space was not regularly affirmed. The good thing is that kids are still teachable. Most adults are so stubborn in selfishness. It is possible that my whole youth I learned and practiced dying to self, which in many ways is powerful and a type of extraordinary freedom. And yet, standing ones ground, being strong and flexible can e more fruitful longterm.

Learning to say “ No, thank you” or “Not right now”, with detached confidence has been my golden ticket out of the aforementioned anxiety.

I didn’t think I would struggle with this phrase (said by my almost 5 years old daughter) so much already: “Everyone else has it”. Helping our kids to distinguish between NEED and WANT is a lifelong journey. We will often loose the “popular parent award”. We will make mistakes. Course-correct. Learn and learn some more. Small kids = small problems. Big kids = big problems.