My two daughters are almost 5 and almost 2. They are at the exciting age where they can play together, laugh together, dance together, and communicate pretty clearly with each other. It's a proud Mommy moment when I see the two of them showing sisterly love. That's when I get out the camera.
One thing I didn't realize was that they would also fight together. I mean, I knew there would be little squabbles. It's inevitable that things will run smoothly all the time. However, I thought they would be able to play together with no issues, the older one helping the younger one, and the younger one learning from the older one. Apparently not the case as often as I would like.
Husband and I have discussed this a few times, trying to figure out the rules of sharing, so to speak. In public places, the rules are pretty simple. The equipment or items are there for everyone to use, so everyone should take turns. However long the turn takes is ultimately left up to the children or parents present.
When at a friend's house, we make it clear that the toys are not ours, so the friend is in charge of who can play with what.
If we have a friend over our house, we first put away any special items that they do not want others to play with, then leave out the ones that they do not mind if others touch. My girls are expected to let their friends have first pick of toys because their friends do not live here and do not get to play with the toys all the time like they do.
Now here's the issue: at home between the two girls. I have two different situations I have been mulling over in my head. The first is that of ownership. The girls do have their own toys that have been gifted to them throughout the past few years. They were given to each child individually. So should they be required to share their own personal gifts with each other? They can choose to share with the other if they like, but if they are literally fighting over it, when do I step in?
A problem with ownership is that the younger one has not been around long enough to have amassed the same number of items as the older one. Instead, we've been passing down the toys from the older one for the younger one to play with. This has worked fine when there was a bigger discrepancy in their ages. Now that the little one is interested in what the older one is playing with, we are having property battles.
That brings me to the second situation, that of first come, first serve. Whoever gets a toy first gets to play with it, even if it belongs to the other child. Should the toys then be fair game? We do have toys that were given to both of the girls, so it makes sense that those are a first come, first served basis. I also try to give whoever is playing with the toy plenty of time for a turn.
Here's an example of a common fight:
Flower (almost 2) is playing happily with the Duplo Legos. Princess (almost 5) starts playing with a baby doll that was given specifically to Flower for Christmas, but is kept in the communal doll pile. Princess happily talks to the doll, mothering it like a good little mother. She takes the baby doll for a walk, happening to go past where Flower is playing. Flower looks up and notices that Princess has her doll.
Ensue crying and screaming and tug of war of the doll.
Cue my Mommy dilemma. Do I make Princess give the doll to Flower, since it is hers? Or do I continue to let Princess play with the doll, since she had it first? Or do I take the doll away until they can figure out who should play with it? Or do I ignore them and hope they figure it out without doing bodily harm?
For now, I'm buying two of everything.