Thursday, October 30, 2008
to have and to hold.
Today while Andrew was playing train I hear him, on behalf of his trains, say in a squeaky voice "It's my tunnel!" slight change of voice: "No, it's my tunnel!" and on and on. He had two trains lined up to go through the tunnel and one would pull up to stake his claim, right before the other train would do the same. His tone wasn't frustrated. He was enjoying playing this out.
It got me thinking.
I think that having is more fun when others want what you have. Access to the tunnel is more desirable for Thomas if Emily also wants access to the tunnel. Since they both want to be there, it increases the inherent value of the tunnel. It confirms that the tunnel is a good thing to go through.
I know this isn't new, ground breaking stuff. This is a common rule of society that affects the price of everything from real estate to milk. It affects the gifts people give and ask for at Christmas (are flat screen TV's really that great? or is it really about just having one...or better, being one of the first to have one?). And it absolutely affected my need for pink converse sneakers in the 4th grade. I mean the little black star was nice and all, but I had to get a pair before Valerie did.
So what really struck me about principal is how young it all starts. Andrew is 3 and he clearly understands the basics behind 'having' and is beginning to understand that having is all the better when others want what you have.
Last night Isaac was in his exersaucer while I was making dinner and he was getting a little fussy. Andrew was trying to help. Andrew brought Isaac his most prized toy of all: his Thomas train. And Isaac loved it. But, Isaac's play at this point is all about oral exploration. And when Andrew saw his beloved train dripping with baby drool he reconsidered and took the train back. Isaac was devastated. He wailed. And so Andrew tried giving him other things. But he didn't want other things. He wanted Andrew's favorite thing. He wanted the Thomas train.
Could Isaac get it? Does Isaac see that the Thomas train is valuable because Andrew loves it so much? Or was there something about it's construction that is especially soothing to teething gums? I'm really not sure.
When I signed up to be a parent I knew that I would have to feed and clothe my kids. I knew I'd need to take care of them when they were sick and wash their stinky feet. I didn't really think about my role in raising consumers. I didn't think about that I would have to take a stab at teaching them about healthy ways to 'have' and healthy ways to 'want'. And unfortunately for them, I am sorely under-qualified.
I guess we'll muddle through, as best as we can. ;)