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Challenge: Summer Fun

The day we learned not to share

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I know a lot of debate goes on, and there have been some very bold women who have written about their own refusal to make their children share toys, playground space, etc. I am not one of those women...not yet, anyway. But I might become one, with enough encouragement. Here you will find a picture of my baby's first pink pool. Isn't it cute?

We thought so. We also live in a condo neighborhood, so our backyard just happens to be everyone's backyard. There are a lot of kids who live here, and it's one of the few places in the US where you can still hear children playing outside because they feel safe. On one level I am grateful for them--they are socializing my otherwise fairly isolated only baby. On another level, this happened:

We were playing in the pool when our neighborhood friends ran over to play with the baby. My husband and I are new to parenting, and new to children. We sat back and watched as they sprinkled water on her head, and said nothing because she didn't seem too bothered. We're trying so hard to let her experience life without being too protective. We raised a quiet eyebrow as two of them ran off and suddenly appeared in their swimsuits, prepared to jump into our tiny pool uninvited.

Finally, we just felt overwhelmed and walked away for a bit with our daughter. Not five minutes later we came back to two 8 year old boys slamming large rocks into the pool's shallow waters, tearing it apart. After my husband chased them off, we mourned the destruction of our first summer toy.

Now I know we're naive. We want to be kind. We want to be fun. We want all the children in our vicinity to be happy and healthy. Part of me wants to shoo them off from now on, but what does that teach my daughter? That a piece of plastic was worth more to us than a lesson, or a human connection, good or bad? The pool was replaced, and we will have a wonderful summer splashing around, but I no longer feel afraid to tell the other children to leave us alone. And neither should you.

Parenting involves a lot of snap decisions and guess work, and there's so much gray area. So for now my daughter will no longer be sharing her pool. Will this keep her from sharing other things later in life? I hope not. But its a fine line between sharing and being bullied, and that day we got bullied by the neighborhood kids.

And it will be a much happier summer as we learn to pick and choose how and when we share on common ground.

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