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Monday, July 28, 2014

Over sharing?

I like sharing a salad before my meal and my dessert afterward. I like sharing a blanket while watching a movie. I like sharing a bed. I like sharing my dog with friends who like dogs but don’t have their own. Sharing is cool. It makes me feel good. There’s even a Jack Johnson song about sharing. You know the one, the “Sharing Song.” It was on the Curious George soundtrack: “It’s always more fun to share with everyone…”

I have been contemplating sharing and how we learn to share and the importance of sharing because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about an article I came across the other day. It was called, “Why I don’t make my son share,” by Very Bloggy Beth. She wrote: “I think it does a child a great disservice to teach him that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it. If you doubt my reasoning, think about your own day-to-day adult life. You wouldn't cut in front of someone in the grocery checkout line just because you didn't feel like waiting. And most grown adults wouldn't take something from someone, like a phone or a pair of sunglasses, just because they wanted to use it.”

Bloggy, we wouldn’t do those things precisely because we learned to share and because we learned to wait for our turn. Hopefully we also learned not steal someone's sunglasses because we think they might look swell on our own face. Sharing is about enjoying something with another person. Sharing does not mean cutting in front of someone in line. Sharing does not equal taking all of something or taking an item forever. Sharing is about expanding your own personal joy by giving someone an opportunity to enjoy something too. I think I came across her post because someone shared it on Facebook.

Share the crayons with your brother. Share the Legos. Share the trampoline. Share the bowl of popcorn. Share your scooter. Share the bubbles. Share your shovel. Share the calculator. Share the Wiimote. In no scenario do any of these mean giving all the crayons away such that you don’t have any more crayons or that you never get another turn on Mario Kart. It’s about taking turns. It’s about getting to watch your friend have fun too.

The article reminded me of something I read years ago in the foreword of a book. It told the story of a group of children in Africa who were given an opportunity to play with a toy. My recollection is that whichever child accomplished something first would get to play with the toy. When the child “won” the toy, he was sad. When asked why, the child answered, “How can I be happy when everyone else will be sad?”

If I give a bit of my dessert to a friend and they love it, then I feel good. If I share my eye make-up with a friend who never wears make-up, watching her light up at her decorated self gives me joy. Giving opens up a whole bucket of feel-good feelings. I love sharing the extra fruit from our orchard and extra eggs from our chickens. I even like sharing when we don’t really have extras simply because people feel appreciative and that in itself makes me feel good.

The giver gets just as much—if not more—out of the act than the recipient. It’s about joy multiplying because more people are getting to experience something fun. Children who share learn about taking turns and empathy. They will learn about the joy of giving, the joy of helping. The joy of including.

Kids may not get the initial joy in sharing, in the same way that they like getting presents a whole lot more than they like giving them. But I’m going to guess it’s one of those things that happens over time. Like saying "I'm sorry," it gets easier with practice. R had to learn to share me when C was born. I had to learn to share my boys with another woman, and both of my kids had to learn to share me when my bonus kids came into my life. Sharing is the gift that keeps on giving. And on that note, I think I'll go share my bag of water balloons with the kids.

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