I’m very blessed to be a mostly stay at home dad. My wife is home as well, but she works. I use the term “mostly” because I do work part-time as a teacher at The Ampersand School during the school year. But I’m out at one in the afternoon, usually.
Over the summer I’ve developed a regular schedule. It helps both the two-year-old – and the nine-year-old – not to mention the two-year-old and nine-year-old in me. So, every Tuesday we attend Story Time at the Seminole County Library Oviedo branch.Thursdays we come to the Orlando Science Center. It’s part of what I call the real Orlando. As a teacher admission is free. My two-year-old is free until he’s three.
There are a few incredible playgrounds and the entire building is wonderfully interactive and educational. Now, I didn’t pay anything. I was given admission. None of my taxes are appropriated for the upkeep of this building. The choice to make my general admission complementary was not mine. The overall cost may be zero but as a customer my value is the same.
There’s always plenty of children here in the summertime. Because so many of the exhibits are interactive there’s plenty of children using the exhibits in the summertime. It’s air conditioned.
I often hear expressions such as, “OK you’re done. Give it to somebody else so they can use it.” Or, “Be fair and don’t use too much.” We were in a large building block area where kids can use foam blocks of odd and unusual shapes to connect and build anything they’d like. It is suggested they use it for urban planning and architecture. On one particular visit a young man had designed and created a superstructure. He was very proud of his superstructure. He ought to have been. He imagined a project, procured the resources, and assembled them as he saw fit. For all intents and purposes that was his.Temporarily anyway, so long as he was using it.
And another kid showed up they wanted to use some of the blocks in his superstructure to create their own. He adamantly defended it. Even put up an invisible wall and announced that nobody was to come near his building or even attempt to take any of the blocks. In many ways I have to agree with him. He (or his custodian) payed the same admission , and used properly the toys that were freely offered to him. He hadn’t even attempted to take the toys out of the suggested play area or out of the building. By all rights that was a superstructure.
No other parents were really arguing with him either. His custodian, I think it was his grandmother, nice and polite suggestions that he share and let the other kids use the blocks. He disagreed. You continue to make loud proclamations to that end. Insisting that nobody wanted to come near or attempt to touch his building.
What if somebody had insisted that his turn was over? What good would that have done? I’ll let you contemplate that and put it in the reply section. I stand by his temporary ownership of it as a reward for his efforts and his rights of having gotten there first. There is certainly an argument for not wasting resource because that’s not “using.”
Similarly when we are at the public library doing story time and we use the children’s area to color pictures and put together puzzles.
I experience a lot of parents telling their children to let go of resources before they’re done using them under the guise of sharing. This shortcuts a few very valuable lessons. It prevents children from learning how to make a decision about what how and when to share. Mandatory sharing is not compassion nor is it even generosity. It’s akin to theft and taxation. The long term effect is that when a kid learns that other people are entitled to his stuff, especially in a place where no one person can claim any more ownership than any other, he/she then considers himself entitled in the future. Why not?
I’d rather allow my kid to learn with whom to engage and share and with whom he can’t. Kids will naturally benefit from play and organic sharing, unless we short circuit that with a mandate. Think about the productivity and creativity abridged because “your turn is up.” What?