“Share Mummy?”, my toddler asks pleadingly with her head on one side. “Please?” She is holding a plastic spoon smeared with semi-cemented Weetabix, thrusting it towards me as she eyes my bowl of muesli, a somewhat forced grimace plastered on her face, which she believes to be appealing. “What you actually are asking me to do is swap,” I explain for the umpteenth time, sighing and handing over a large, fresh spoon, full of muesli, in return for her crusty offering. We have made some progress. At least she is pretending to pose her demand as a question.
At almost Two she is ferociously territorial. The phrases, “That’s Mine!”, “Not Share!”, and “Go Away!”, are frequently fired from her lips in all directions at anyone who comes within a few hundred metres. Even strangers whose intent and motive is completely unestablished.
So it does seem unwise to familiarise her with the motto, “Sod off! What’s mine is mine, and I don’t have to share if I don’t want to,” at this stage.
The downside to this phase in her development means nurturing any sign of willingness to share. And this means cramming pieces of chocolate cake into my mouth, chased with a swig of lukewarm tea, while hiding in a corner of the kitchen, simply to avoid any debate about whose cake it is.
Sharing may be caring. But there are some things I care rather more about giving up a portion of than others.
The Top Five things I most resent sharing with my child are:
1. MY Bed
From having my eyes prised open in the middle of the night because my daughter is feeling 99 per cent more awake than I am, to being kicked in the head when she is asleep. Right through to being elbowed off my pillow in the morning while I am trying to drink my coffee and brace myself to start the day. This invasion of my personal space is the most intrusive. It’s Mine! Go Away!
Breakfast, biscuits, lunch, snacks, dinner. I always seem to be giving away my own sustenance in exchange for cold, half-eaten plates of food swimming in a puddle of spilt water which I shovel into my mouth while walking from the table to the sink. It’s like some twisted reversal of birds which regurgitate food into their offspring’s mouth.
3. Electronic Devices
Why should she hog my Instagram account to look at pictures of dogs and cats for hours when I could be looking at plates of hot, delicious food?
Though on closer inspection it appears I was right about it being boring, it’s still worth pulling out my bookmark and losing my page, to make sure. Or repeatedly snatching it and throwing it on the floor for an entire train journey, just to make lugging it around absolutely pointless.
5. Trips To The Bathroom
I dream of the day when I can lock that door behind me once again. And sit alone, minding my own business, reading a book or flicking through social media. I’ll probably even take a piece of cake and a pillow in there just for good measure.
One hopes that in teaching my daughter to embrace sharing she will become a pleasant person with plenty of friends to play with. Thus leaving me on my own to enjoy what is mine.