Here's my latest conundrum though...when teaching your toddler to share, what do you do when the other kids won't take turns and their parents aren't present? It's too much to expect the Nugget to be generous when another kid is hogging the swing/train/book. I usually tell the Nugget that we'll share and take turns and that the other kid is taking his or her turn now. Often, the child will give the Nugget a chance when they're done, or the kid's parent will step in and help negotiate the sharing. When that fails, I do nicely ask the kid to please let the Nugget take a quick turn. Sometimes they do, sometimes they point blank refuse. I am not bold enough to physically remove someone else's child from a plaything (and basically that would be teaching the Nugget to grab toys anyway), so in these circumstances, the Nugget must be carried away, crying indignant tears, and I feel helpless for letting him down. I have nothing to say but, "Sometime life's not fair. I'm so sorry that you're sad, I know you wanted to play with X. We'll do something else fun and try to come back to it later."
One kid at a playground was playing catch with the Nugget's blue ball, then ran off with it instead of kicking it back. He even taunted the Nugget with it several times, while we politely asked him to return it and told him, "We need to share the ball. This ball belongs to Nugget," time and time again. I'm not mad that another child would do this, he is surely learning too - but where was his mother? What should I have done? Perhaps I should have cornered the kid and brought out the teacher voice. It's so hard to know how to deal with unknown children, when your role is not that of authority figure but that of parent to another tot.
I was the mild child on the playground, always willing to acquiesce to others. I don't want the Nugget to be that mild, he is not built to be that mild, but how can I teach him when to stand up and when to back down, given that my life experience was a constant series of turning the other cheek?
Why bother learning this sharing business if other kids won't play fair? Will being the underdog teach him compassion or inspire vengeance? What happens when I can't be there to police? We want to teach our kids that might doesn't make right, but sometimes it does, doesn't it? I hope these slights that feel so big today will fade away into just single stitches in the tapestry of his childhood. I hope the big picture remains beautiful and joyful.