Sunday, May 20, 2012

Negotiating, 3-year-old style

There has been some impressive sharing going on around our house lately. Why am I so impressed by sharing between my children? I suppose it is because I am also privy to the hysterics that ensue when someone doesn't get their way; to the cheerios, inches from his mouth, that are swiped from the baby's chubby hand by his older sisters. And actually, when you think of how little control children have over their lives in a world ruled by adults, it's pretty amazing when they voluntarily relinquish anything.

Junie has a fairly solid record of saving things to share with Olive. Last year when she was in preschool, this meant saving part of her afternoon snack. This year in kindergarten, she has hit upon the strategy of asking for an extra cupcake when a classmate has birthday treats brought in. A bit less sacrificing perhaps, but still striking that she always remembers to do so.

Olive, in turn, has picked up on Junie's sharing habits. Her offerings may be a bit less impressive (a meager crumb of bread offered to Henry; the last few sips of warm, melted Jamba Juice saved for when we pick Junie up from school) but her heart is in the right place.

The real rub comes when both Junie and Olive want something that cannot be divided. But recently I've overheard a few conversations between them that have successfully resolved instances where Junie wants something of Olive's. There are two reasons I can see for the success rate going up: 1) Junie has become quite sophisticated in her persuasion skills (almost scarily so); and 2) Olive appears to have an increasingly sweet and giving disposition (except when she doesn't).

The other day Olive found a grubby Hello Kitty watch at the park. The instant Junie became aware of her find, she began vying for a turn with it. I was ready to jump in and tell Junie to lay off for a bit, but Olive, after only a moment's hesitation, said, "Sure, June, we can share it." They began to negotiate the terms of the sharing agreement:

Junie: (enthusiastically) I know, Olive! I can have it today, then you can have it tomorrow, then I'll have it the next day, then you can have it... like that!

Olive: (a bit less enthusiastically) Oh, yes. (and then getting very excited as she hit upon the perfect joint custody agreement) I know! I can have it while we're on earth, and then you can have it when we get up to heaven!

Junie: (long pause) I think that might be a little too long, Olive.

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