Monday, September 24, 2007

The First Rule of Acquisition

The comments on this post have reminded me of how lucky I am that my children haven’t yet figured out how to beg for toys. We spent many a morning this summer hanging out at the local toy store, and though I often had difficulty detaching my children from the ladybug scooter and the Thomas train table so we could go out to the car, they never asked me to buy anything. They just didn’t get it.

Bub is locked fairly securely at the concept of possession rather than ownership. When it comes to toys, there is “have” and “not have” – there is no “own.” To be sure, the rights of possession are not limited to toys he has in has hand – there is a kind of aura of possession that continues to linger after a toy has momentarily been set down. Nevertheless, Bub makes little distinction between the toys at our house and the toys he finds at play groups, the toy store, or other people’s houses. When another child comes to visit, he is, if anything, somewhat less territorial with is own (boring) toys than he is with the ones he latches onto elsewhere.

Pie, on the other hand, has begun to grasp the principle of ownership. She understands that certain objects are her sole property – kitty, blankie, the food on her plate. (The food on my plate is hers also – but any attempt of mine to sneak a nibble of her dessert is considered scandalous.) The other day my sister came for a visit and halfway through supper, Pie noticed something. “What you got?” she demanded, looking down meaningfully at the table.

“She’s got the Thomas place mat,” I explained.

Pie was shocked. “That’s mine!” she declared. (Short pause.) “Give it back!”

Not for long, I suspect, will I be able to steer my shopping cart past dinky cars and Leap Frog accessories at the grocery store. Now that she’s mastered the concept of ownership, acquisition cannot be far behind. But in the meantime, there are certain sweet compensations for her newly grasping attitude. “That’s good sharing, Daddy,” she observed sweetly yesterday, after her father scooped some roast beef out of his Quizno’s sandwich and put it on her plate. Pie can eat a truly mind-boggling amount of roast beef when she wants to, but this week she seemed to genuinely understand that more roast beef for her meant less for us. I gave her the last inch of my six-inch sub, and when she had gobbled it down, I noticed that there was a similar bit left on hubby’s plate.

“Are you giving that to the Pie?” I asked. Pie leaned forward hungrily, longingly, saying nothing.

“I wasn’t planning to,” hubby replied. Pie held her breath.

“Well, you’d better take one last bite and give her the rest,” I said. “She’s onto us now.”

Hubby savoured his last bite of sandwich, and then put the remainder on Pie’s plate. She let out her breath with an angelic smile. Rarely have a heard a more fervent and sincere, “Thank you!”

27 comments:

b*babbler said...

I can almost imagine this scene. While the Peanut is only 11 months old, she has already started to realize that the stuff on mommy's plate might just be a darned sight tastier than what is on her plate, and squawks until she gets it. Sigh. Gone are the days of saving and then savoring that last bite.

slouching mom said...

there is a kind of aura of possession that continues to linger after a toy has momentarily been set down

You said it, sister! My boys subscribe wholeheartedly to that "aura of possession" theory.

Her Bad Mother said...

WB has fully embraced the core principles of property rights, and is especially attached to the notion that possession accords plausible claim to such rights. Thankfully, she also very fond of sharing, and has grasped - as Aristotle did - that sharing and giving are among the greatest rewards of property.

That, and the pleasure of shrieking MINE.

mcewen said...

A bit like Community property - what's your's is mine, and what's mine is my own - or the Brit version.
Cheers

Patois said...

Oh, the heady days of my babies' youth. Heavy, heavy sigh. It wasn't until the first one hit 7 -- yes, 7!! -- that we actually didn't spend months -- yes, months!! -- opening Christmas gifts and birthday gifts. Alas, no more. Give me, give me, give me. We have now entered our three month period of no purchases until Christmas. I love Pie. She is so cool. (Bet you knew that, eh?)

DaniGirl said...

Oh rats, you just reminded me that I wanted to add a "how do I deal with rampant consumerism" question to my parenting manual post today!!

All else aside, though, what sticks with me from this post is that I'm just so impressed that Pie will eat roast beef!! While Simon is a passably good eater in comparison to his finicky brother, I can't scam nor beg them to eat red meat that isn't processed, pumped full of nitrates and more likely to resemble playdough than actual meat.

nomotherearth said...

Oh, the loss of innocence. The Boy is very hung up on "Who made it for me?" or "Who bought it for me??". When I come home from a store with a bag, it's always "What you bought for me?". I am starting to get unprompted 'thank yous' though, which is something.

DaniGirl said...

P.S. There's something hinky in your link to your previous post. You might want to check the code.

bubandpie said...

Dani - Thanks for the heads-up: it's fixed now. Pie loves her some roast beef - but only the thin-sliced kind (preferably with a bit of garlic sauce on it) - she makes a noble effort with the straight-from-the-oven kind, but it's hard for her to chew.

Karen said...

we had our first last week - we have many trains, but not Harvey. Little Puppy has not had many of them bought for him, they are hand me down trains, but he popped out with "We need to go to the store and buy Harvey." He has stories about Harvey and he tends to act out the stories on his own track, I can only assume he grasped the buying idea from more common purchases like groceries or pizza. One week later, we still have no Harvey, but he may turn up at Christmas.
As for the aura of possession - yes, it's real. We observe a 10 second waiting period in our household before something is fair game.

Julie said...

I just love that she's repeating back what I assume you guys tell her: "that's good sharing." Last night we were at a friend's for dinner and their two year old did just that. Her dad had told her several times not to take a toy away from her baby sister Chloe. So then she took one of OUR toys off the car seat and gave it to the baby and her mom took it away and gave it back to us. The 2-year-old said to her mother, "You don't take toys away from Chloe." It was too much. And practically impossible to argue with!

Laural Dawn said...

Matthew is at a point where he wants stuff - and doesn't understand the value of money. I used to freely hand out quarters in order to get candy in the mall (much to my husband's chagrin) but I can't now because Matthew doesn't understand that I can give him a quarter for candy but I can't buy him his own truck - as in a real truck.
He's also started saying "when I grow up and have money I'm buying ..."
But, he's also willing to share his wealth with others - like he'll offer to also buy his cousin a truck!

AnneK said...

How cute is that?

Kyla said...

BubTar has been asking for things since he was probably the Pie's age. KayTar still isn't. She plays a game where she grabs my hand and says "Mine." and then I softly tug it back and say "Mine." and so on, but that is her only use of a possessive word.

painted maypole said...

it sounds like pie is learning the good lessons that go along with possession that it's best to SHARE what we have.

and the more you say no in the store, the less they ask. My grandparents used to marvel at how my brother and I never begged for things when we went out, and my mom said "because we never buy them anything!"

Beck said...

Well... my kids have always kept whining in stores pretty low-key, because it doesn't WORK for them. We don't buy them things if they whine for them, the end.

flutter said...

Oh my...things certainly are getting interesting at your house, aren't they?

Blog Antagonist said...

"Aura of posession" Oh yes. That has kind of passed in regard to toys, but it's still in effect in regard to furniture.

Jenifer said...

I'm still hung-up on the roast beef...kids who eat red meat?!

I agree with Beck that whining will get you no where and we have set the stage from the beginning that it is NOT necessary to get, something each time we leave the house. This back-fired on friends who used to buy their son something from the Dollar Store every time they went out as a bribe to get him to be good. Eventually, besides having more crap than you can imagine it stopped working - he was acting worse...imagine!

Like you I can take my kids anywhere and without much fuss. Even as they grasp the acquisition as Pie is doing, there is no need to indulge all the time. The line about everything on your plate belongs to her made me laugh as my goddaughter does the same thing with me...I learned my lesson last week and served myself bigger helpings!

Lawyer Mama said...

Ah yes, the "aura of possession" is fully in play in our household. Luckily the acquisition hasn't fully settled in yet. But whatever is on Mommy & Daddy's plates will always be tastier.

Marie said...

I was just noticing today that my oldest son, Green Bean, has finally begun to realize that when he shares what he has freely with others, he has less for himself. His little brother Peanut Butter just turned 1, and has been teaching him lots of valuable life lessons. Green Bean never used to even think about how many crackers he had left when someone asked him for one, and now he consistently gives Peanut Butter the smaller cracker or the broken one when he's compelled to share. It's sad. I doubt Peanut Butter will ever have anything like that happy three year window of not worrying about getting his fair share of something.

Alpha DogMa said...

I've taken to eating in private. Breakfast before the kids are up, lunch after they've gone for quiet time. Because Mommy doesn't like to share. I have much to learn from The Pie.

Christina said...

Cordy calls everything hers, but at the same time she doesn't have any particular attachment to anything. Other kids can come up and take away what she's playing with, and she just shrugs and finds something else.

I wonder if Mira will be like Pie and develop a strong sense of property rights?

AmandaD said...

I loved this.

ewe are here said...

I haven't faced those 'buy me this' moments in the shops yet, either, but MF has started announcing 'That's mine.' when he spots a coveted item in someone else's hands.

And I'm right with you on the food sharing. Mine is, apparently, fair game; his, nope, can't be touched.

Susanne said...

How sweet. I, too, like the "aura of possession theory". And it's almost a little creepy that just yesterday I watched an episode of "Deep Space Nine" that highly featured Quark, a Ferengi.

bubandpie said...

Finally! Somebody got (or at least commented upon) the Ferengi reference! (Thanks, Susanne!)