Saturday, May 24, 2008

Family: Isn't It About... MINE?

Ever heard of the Toddler Rules of Acquisition? It's a paraody on (I cringe as I type this-) the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. (Deep Space Nine. A moment of silence for my dignity.) Anyway, the Toddler Rules of Acquistion are as follows:

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

I've always liked that and found quite a lot of truth in it. I was reminded of The Rules recently when MonsterTruck(3) had his birthday. Husband asked him what he would like for a present and without hesitation he anwered, "A lightsaber that is MINE." Poor kid. In early childhood development they will tell you that the reason toddlers are so possessive is because their identity is tied to their belongings. Well, lucky for us he seems pretty well-adjusted because the boy has got nothin'. We have EVERY SINGLE TOY in that famous toy chain worth having at this house. This last Christmas there was nothing in that ENTIRE store that my kids wanted. We did three laps. I'm not kidding. But the problem is, the toys at our house all have owners. The children all share, of course, but when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, those toys belong to individuals. Of which MonsterTruck(3) is apparently not one.

We were more than happy to accomodate his wish for his own light saber. We threw in a Thomas train as well since those all belong to Bubba(7) and Mr.Yuke(4). MonsterTruck(3) was ECSTATIC. He has walked around with a light saber strapped to his underwear every day since then. (Don't ask me where his pants are. All I know is that I put them on him and then they are gone.) Incidentally, underwear doesn't really hold the weight of a light saber very efficiently....

So we got him presents. He was happy. Mr.Yuke(4) was not. Because trains are HIS, see? And so us giving one to MonsterTruck(3) is really quite unacceptable. And why doesn't MR.YUKE(3) have that particular engine? And it's not fair.

There are a lot of things in family life that belong to us. I have realized that although the idea that everything is mine starts in toddlerhood, it really stays with us our whole lives. There is the ever-so-trying period of life from 7-ish to I-don't-know-when that girls think everything in the house is part of their domain and therefore fair game. Like scissors and masking tape and lip gloss. (THOSE ARE MINE.) And computer paper. (HUSBAND'S) And brownie mixes. And....

It's not all possessiveness though. My children are sometimes very generous with their things. Like when I say clean up your room and they all say that those clothes on the floor belong to their beloved sister/brother who they share a room with. It is just really so kind they way they give up their stuff like that. Warms a mother's heart. Or temper- one of those. : )

They are also very generous with fault. Blame is something that is never anyone's "MINE". It is ALWAYS someone else's. The floor must truly bleed jelly. It is the only logical explanation.

We continue the compulsion to claim what is ours even into adulthood. Show me one woman in this country who has given birth who has not at some point or other felt compelled to tell all about their labor and delivery- in detail. I am telling you, she doesn't exist. We all want credit for what is OURS. Even if it's blood, sweat, and tears. Especially if.

We judge comments we hear from others based on our experience. "Yes, that's true with MINE." or "Not with MINE." I recently went to a class on holding effective Family Home Evenings where the teacher (whose lesson was great, by the way) made a comment to the effect of "Your kids idolize you. They want to be you. There is no one they admire more." Forgetting temporarily that her children are 2 and 7 months or something like that, all I could think was, "Are you INSANE? Not MINE." But she does not have a pre-pubescent daughter at the moment. She was teaching from HER perspective. And I was hearing from MINE.

Everywhere I go people are always asking me, "Are these all YOURS?" I have yet to come up with the perfect snarky comeback to that but really? If you had three or four kids, would you round up three MORE to do a little grocery shopping with? Yes. They are all mine- which brings me back to MonsterTruck(3).

A few days after his birthday, he was laying on my bed, looking up at the wall where all the family pictures are. He said, "There's Gwanny, and Gwamma, and Gwampa, and Daddy, and Mommy, and LittleMommy(9), and Bubba(7), and Mr. Yuke(4), and Kryptonite(1), and ThePinkiest(5), and MoneyBags, and Sumping.... Those is MY PEOPLE." Looks like he had something to identify himself with before the light saber after all.

Yeah. Those IS my people. That's who I am. And I'm so glad they're MINE.


Lindsey said...

Oh yes.. MINE MINE MINE... My alone time is MINE MINE MINE! :)

The Coolest Allen Family said...

Love this post! I am glad you are MY friend! :)

Kelly said...

Couldn't have said it better!

Tiercy said...

What a great post! I love those toddler rules and have thought of them often. And, yes, belonging to a family is better than any possesion he could own.