maybe Little TO is onto something ...
baby nice guy has a mini stroller. she is freakin' obsessed with her mini stroller. she has a freaky little cross-eyed hairless baby doll that she MUST take with her everywhere. so she's a tiny little mommy now. it's weird, but what the hey. it's her thing. she wants to push her own stroller and lug her own baby around, it's her prerogative. i guess it feels nice to be the boss for once, and this is definitely familiar turf for her: baby, stroller, push, move, go.
but autonomy is not complete. every now and then i have the privilege of barking orders at her: "where's your stroller?!" she trots over to her stroller and obligingly pushes it around in a circle for a while. i am unconvinced of her dedication, so i ask, "where's the baby?!" she points to the baby. "kiss the baby!" she lifts the baby out of her stroller, kisses it on its lumpy head and then ... throws it on the ground. so you know what this means, right? i am impressed. she's got a fundamental understanding of the parenting impulses: kiss baby, throw baby. these are the two poles of my existence boiled down to a nutshell and my 17 month old has already deduced as much.
anyway, sharing. sharing is not an impulse that she possesses. nor is it, for that matter, an impulse that anyone on the tot lot possesses. we bring her wee stroller and her wee baby doll. and we take her to the tot lot ... and all she wants to do is push other kids' strollers around. she wants one of the 8 other EXACTLY IDENTICAL NAVY BLUE MINIATURE MACLAREN STROLLERS to push around for the sole reason that it doesn't belong to her and it makes some unsuspecting toddler PISSED.
and so after much research, here is my tot lot maxim, boiled down to three simple words. say them with me now: Ownership is Fluid.
ownership in the tot lot is not like ownership in reality. if you are a tot in the aforementioned lot and you see something that attracts your eye, like for example some woman's wallet sitting in some other child's stroller or maybe dad's 98,436-degree coffee, well then, that thing suddenly BELONGS TO YOU. just because it does. you wouldn't understand. it's a tot thang.
aha, but here's where things get complicated: ownership may be fluid, yes, but sometimes another tot might decide she owns your glitterball, or your sippy cup, or your mom. WHAT DO YOU DO THEN? well, that depends. if you are currently claiming ownership of someone Else's Elmo doll, for example, chances are you couldn't give two shits about some little squirt homing in on your half-eaten bagel. HOWEVER. if you have claimed ownership of someone's Thomas the train board book while that exact same someone has started pushing your stroller around, well then, sister, all bets are OFF. that is a full-on declaration of war. "ne touche pas le stroller de Bebe. sinon, cest la guerre!" i think Lafayette said that.
if you are my child, your spidey sense kicks in the second some other tot has touched your mini maclaren, 600 feet away. if you are my child, your head spins, Linda Blair-like, and your eyes focus, terminator-like. you make a noise at 3824x10-to-the-28th decibel that sounds like this: NOOOOO! and then, as your parents clasp their hands to bleeding ears, you begin running because, for all you know, that child is about to eat your stroller and you'll never see it again if you don't get there soon enough.
right? i mean, what do kids think these other kids are going to do with their stuff? sell it on eBay? I'm all "Jesus, baby nice guy, relax. have some string cheese. if some little squirt touching your shit is the worst thing that ever happens to you, then i am going to be rubbing your forehead for good luck every remaining day of my life." she doesn't fall for it. she runs over to the offender and again lets out a spine-melting NO! and wrenches her stuff out of the other kid's arms. the other kid, of course, is indignant. he's all "but ownership is fluid! didn't you read the fifth paragraph?! this is my stuff now, beeyotch! you can't have it back!"
and here's the funny part. while both kids are melting down--both the plaintiff and the defendant in the tot lot stroller-jacking case--the other kid's mom comes over and saya "now listen, Dylan. that stroller doesn't belong to you. that stroller belongs to this other baby. now sweetie please give it back. give it back sweetie. honey does that belong to you? no. so please give it back. stop screaming. stop. please? honey? mommy would like you to give it back. no? you don't want to give it back? why not? give it back, honey." meanwhile i'm starting to twitch. "lady if the tot lot has taught us anything, it's that LOGIC is not the dictating force here. nor is coercion. THE STRONGER ONE WINS. and what is stronger than mommy? let me show you." and then i wrench my melting-down toddler's stroller out of teachable-moment mom's claws and give it back to my kid. i say nothing else, but i think verrrry loudly, "save it for when your kid understands things like ENGLISH, lady."
yeah, so, i'm left to wonder ... where does my child get it from?