You need to develop a streak of cunning-ness when you become a parent. Small people – children, not dwarves – are difficult to reason with. They’re still learning how things work and why things happen, so you need to stretch the bounds of your ingenuity just to keep one step ahead of the little ones and use the right easy-to-understand facts to persuade them to do as they’re told.
And it starts pretty early; not long after they exit the womb, in fact. Just after they’ve had the cord snipped and their first bath they’re searching for chinks in your kiddie logic, probing your parental barrier of authority. They basically try to find ways to be as cheeky as they can and get their own way with absolutely everything.
One challenge we had was to convince Zane that ownership was a fluid thing and that when other little ones invaded his little world of toys – including his brother – it was a wonderful thing to let others play with his possessions.
So we introduced the concept of sharing. Whenever he cruelly snatched something of his from out of the surprised hands of another, we’d say “Share, Zane”, and prompt him to hand over the toy that he clung to and then gush praise once he had done so.
He picked the idea up quite quickly. He began to enjoy handing his things to other kids. Job done! How easy was that. What marvellous parents we were.
Not long after this triumph I helped myself to a bit of ice-cream and sat on the couch. Zane sidled up to me, patted my knee and said “Zane some?” I wasn’t going to fall for his little charms; there was only one King of Cunning in the house and it wasn’t a two year old. “No, you’ve had your dinner.”
He stood a bit closer, his nose almost touching the dessert bowl. Persistence: “Zane some?”
I shook my head. He didn’t move. He stared up at me over the bowl, his bright blue eyes unblinking, calmly assessing his options and my resolve.
And then he came out with it; he turned my own shrewd scheme against me. “Daddy: share.”
I was going to have no hope once he went to school.