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Like, four percent of the time. The other 96 percent of the time, he’s a normal 2-and-a-half-year-old who truly believes that if he has to share a toy, he will cease to exist. Like, he will literally explode or self-combust if he has to relinquish the random red ball he just picked up that he doesn’t actually care about. That’s how dire the situation is (you know you know what I’m talking about). Anyway, this seems perfectly reasonable to me, because I’ve read that kids don’t actually learn the true meaning of sharing until they’re like, seven (or in some cases, thirty-seven). Anyway, my kiddo is obviously not any better or any worse at sharing than yours, but he has his own, unique sharing quirks.

Case in point: nearly every afternoon, he begs me to take him to this toy store in West Portal where they have a Thomas the Train table set up with tracks strategically glued down… and a bunch of dirty, grubby trains to play with. I have long gotten over my initial confusion as to why the hell he would want to go play with this “special train” every single damn day, when we have our own lovely “special” train table at home, and it isn’t even dirty and crusted over with the snot of a thousand children. Now, I just accept it: the table at the toy store is fun precisely because it isn’t at home. And on top of that, he can browse the train section after he plays. (Thank the universe that he has learned he’s just “looking,” and we don’t buy trains unless it’s one of those rare super spectacular days when Mommy is tired and says we can). Anyway, we visit this train so often that he has this whole routine down, which includes setting aside one, specific train for his nanny-share-best-friend, a little boy who’s about 8 months younger than him. (Yes, I’m disproportionately proud that he’s learned to do that, and yes, it’s going in my kindergarten graduation toast).

Of course, my kiddo and his nanny-share-friend play pretty peacefully when it’s just the two of them, but as soon as another kid (or two or three) comes along, things can get hairy. I’ve sat and watched these interactions at this particular table for so long now, I could write some kind of psychology dissertation on it if I could find a pen. But seriously, here’s what I’ve noticed: all of these kids have their own playing paradigms, and they’re all different enough to make all the parents involved go slightly crazy trying to figure out when to intervene, when to sit back and let the kids work it out, and when to say sorry to all involved and drag your kiddo to a time-out. So I was thinking it could really help if each parent just went ahead and fashioned a sign, or I don’t know, button or something that the kid could wear, explaining his or her paradigm in super upfront terms. That would really help the rest of us parents know how and when to break up, handle, or ignore certain kid-on-kid interactions and could eliminate a lot of the necessary-but-trying small talk that inevitably ensues in these situations. You know, the awkward kind where we each admit that our kid can’t share that well, pre-apologize for any infractions that might occur, and blanketly commiserate about the trials of convincing your child to wear pants.

For example, my kid’s sign would say, “Super obsessed train enthusiast. Likes to hoard trains but will make an even trade (Percy for Thomas). Will provide running commentary on positions of all trains. Will not hit or shove. It’s fine with Mom if your kid grabs; mine will grab back.” And then like, another kid’s might say, “New to this train thing. Just want to be in the game.” And finally, “Kid has four older brothers. Doesn’t even notice if you take his trains.” (Or, conversely: “Grab her trains at your own peril.”) See? Wouldn’t that be helpful? Can someone create an app for that, or, I don’t know, maybe our kiddos could check into the train on Foursquare or something?

Um, so my last TWO blog posts have been about trains. If it seems like all I talk about is trains these days, that’s because all I talk about is trains these days. Honestly, though, I kind of love Leo’s train obsession, especially since he wants to read “Engine That Could” every single night now without fail. He loves it so much, he’s incredibly patient even though it’s a long book. I could snuggle up reading that book to him forever (or at least until 8:17, when I fall asleep).

How are your kiddos handling the whole “sharing” thing (and by thing, I mean the realization that there are literally billions of other people on the planet they must co-exist with who do NOT want “cheese! cheese!” right this second)? How do you figure out when to discipline your kid during a toddler scuffle and when to just apologize to the other parent and try to distract all parties involved with cake? (I don’t do that. HAVE NEVER DONE THAT. Swear). xox