Published: August 30, 2006
The other day my son was busy playing with his trucks in the family room, when he became very upset at his baby sister because she took one of his trucks, and put it in her mouth.
“That’s MY truck”, he said scolding and ripped it out of her little hands.
My daughter stared at him not understanding, and instead of yelling, she reached again for it, unaware that there was any issue of “mine or yours” at play.
“Not for a girl” said my son again and left the room with his trucks. This is when she began to cry.
I called my son back into the family room to explain the concept of sharing and being nice to his sister. I told him that his sister only wanted to be playing with him and because she loves him so much, she wants to be able to play just like he does.
“No,” he said again, “I don’t like that”.
This went back and forth for a few minutes while my daughter giggled and gurgled and sat patiently, waiting for the playing to continue with her brother. I finally placated the situation by giving my daughter a different toy and my son resumed playing with his trucks.
I had hoped before my daughter was born that he understood the concept of sharing and giving, as he certainly had never had an issue with sharing or letting other children play with his toys – so why was this any different?
The next day we all decided to go out in the backyard and play. My son was playing with his car and my daughter had found a toy that had long been forgotten in the grass and was quite content – that is – until my son spotted her playing with it.
“That’s mine!” he bellowed out and ran up to get it.
“No,” I explained, “you aren’t playing with this, and this is making your sister happy. Please share with her”. He shook his head and took it away with him across the yard.
I tried to shame him to bring it back. I tried to rationalize with him. I even resorted to bribery with him to bring it back. But there he remained firmly – standing on the other end of the yard with a toy that he never even knew was there before that day – acting as if it was the most important toy he owned.
I was shocked. Why was he acting this way? I had tried so hard to ensure that both children received as much attention from me as possible. So where did this behaviour originate from?
I was becoming worried that this might affect their relationship as brother and sister. Did he not care about his sister? I had purposefully spaced almost three years between the two of them to ensure that jealousy or competitive issues wouldn’t play a factor as much.
The next morning as I was making breakfast, while my daughter was in her playpen and my son was sitting on the couch, I heard my daughter scream again.
Oh no, I thought to myself, here we go again. But when I entered the family room the screaming suddenly stopped.
“What happened?” I asked my son.
“She was sad because she didn’t want to be in there anymore,” he said seriously pointing to the playpen. “So I gave her one of my toys and now she’s happy again, Mommy – see?”
I looked over to see my daughter happily chewing on a large, soft car toy that is one of my son’s favourites.
The love and nurturing that I gave him was being passed on in one simple gesture – quietly understood – a brother’s love for his sister had been there all along.