When I was slightly less burdened by children and could travel on summer holidays with just one (ah, the good old days), I would often take her to community parks so she could run and play and meet other kids. Naturally, being a global traveler, I did not always have the right toys for sandboxes, water features, and playgrounds. About all I did carry was water and snacks, if she was lucky. No matter, within minutes, my girl would just naturally start playing with other kids and the parents (usually moms) were genial about sharing toys; even insistent. “Kids need to learn to share,” was the typical mantra. We were ever grateful, but never gave it much thought.
These days, I don’t get to travel so light with children or toys. If we head to a park in Beijing, we bring stuff. Lots of stuff. Still, no matter how well supplied our 2 year-old twin boys are, Bryson is not content to play with only his stuff. He wants to test drive other kids’ toys. Naturally, if we lived in the USA, this would be a welcome behavior, but I’ve noticed on several recent trips to the park behind Indigo Mall that this does not sit well with about half of the adults tending kids and it really sets off a lot of children.
Despite the ire that he raises, I tend to just stay back a bit and watch. If he gets to grabby, or someone beseeches my assistance, I’ll extricate him, but if there are items sitting around and he plays with them for a few minutes, I’m not concerned. I will observe how the adults talk with him and the other children. Clearly some see it as a teachable moment and encourage their children to share, but many are confounded about how to retrieve the cup, shovel, truck, etc. from this tiny marauder. Bryson is rarely deterred, no matter the tact someone takes. After all, he is used to others wanting what he has and will either give it up freely and pick up the next item, or ignore the everyone and just keep playing.
If I knew enough Chinese, I’d rattle off some ancient proverb about how kids need to learn to share (I’m certain their must be one). Alas, my Chinese language skills are – what’s the technical term? – sucky. So I watch. I’m an astute observer of non-verbal intercultural communication. And I enjoy sharing my child with others.