Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sharing is Caring

I'm fairly positive this doesn't happen in a household with mixed children (I.e. boys and girls). I mean, my sister and I are very close in age, but I don't recall us fighting over our respective toys when young. I didn't have much interest in Barbies (excepting what one could do to said Barbie by way of annoying one's younger sister), and my sister didn't hanker for my He-Man or Transformers.

The boys however... Well, at first I thought the 3 years difference might shield us from the worse of the problems. Obviously while a baby, Hikaru wouldn't be interested in/able to play with Makoto's toys and Makoto wouldn't be interested in baby toys. Little did I know that Makoto would spend a great deal of Hikaru's first year taking whatever toy, be it rattle or a small ball, away from Hikaru and Hikaru would start getting into Thomas the Tank Engine like his older brother.

Makoto is a collector of all things Thomas. We eat with a Thomas fork and spoon, we drink out of a Thomas cup, we have a Thomas backpack, we watch Thomas DVDs in English and Japanese, we wake early on Sundays to watch Thomas on TV, we go on trips with our Thomas thermos, and when our nursery school goes on a field trip, Beloved has to pack a Thomas bento for him. The kid also has a number of different engines and enough of the wooden tracks to stretch from one side of the house to the other.

This was the set up two years ago, it's a lot larger now
 And now Hikaru is starting to get into the act. He's not building railroads yet, but he loves to play with the engines, especially the magnets that allows an engine to connect to and pull the various cars/tenders and the like. Part of this is no doubt genetic as I've yet to run into any Japanese male that did NOT have a love affair with trains sometime in their life.

It should be noted that some Japanese men never lose it, every weekend can find hordes of guys hanging out by railroad tracks in various places all over Japan to take a picture of a particular train as it goes by and some train otaku have make it their life's mission to ride every single line in Japan.

But back to Thomas. Hikaru also loves watching Thomas on TV, happily pointing to Thomas on the screen while holding Makoto's Thomas toy, which of course brings howls of outrage from Makoto because that's HIS Thomas toy and HE wanted to play with it.  Pretty much life is a daily fight over who gets to play with what engine at any given point in time.

Now, wise father that I am, my mantra to Makoto has always been "If you don't want your brother to play with your toys, don't bring them downstairs!" To me, it makes sense. Hikaru hasn't mastered stairs yet so we keep a baby gate at the bottom to keep him from ascending Mt. Staircase. This leaves Makoto the whole of the upstairs area (Minus my office) to play with. His toys are supposed to stay up there and he can play with them in peace without having to worry about Hikaru playing with HIS toys. Hikaru's toys are supposed to stay downstairs and Makoto should respect that those are Hikaru's toys and not take them either.

Sadly, the boys lack their father's training in logic and common sense. So instead, Makoto keeps taking Hikaru's toys, sometimes bringing them upstairs, and then brings down loads of Thomas stuff, which Hikaru is delighted to see, and steals away from Makoto. So of course the day is punctuated with yells of "Hikaru! I had James first! YOU can have Gordon!" or crying from Hikaru because Makoto just liberated Thomas from his younger brother.

The wise father states his mantra, and of course also tells his eldest son, apple of my eye, pride of his father, "You need to learn to share, Makoto. Sharing's a good thing and if you're not playing with it right that moment, share! It's what big boys do, share things with others."

I've come to regurgitate those words.

To sidetrack a bit, meals at the house have been a running battle on two different fronts. The Makoto front is getting him to eat, period. It's not that the kid isn't hungry, the kid would just rather watch TV, talk, play, do anything but take less than an hour to consume his food. The Hikaru front is keeping said kid from eating everything. Now, when Makoto was small, he was a kid who LIKED the babyfood Beloved made for him. It took us until he was almost three to really start eating the dinner the rest of us were eating. He didn't mind getting the soft rice or mushed fruits, he liked them.

Hikaru however, as soon as he found that there was more to the world of food than Mommy's boobs has not accepted this notion of babyfood. Even when he had no teeth he would pitch a fit over not being allowed to eat the pizza the rest of us were enjoying, or only given a taste of Alfredo sauce. So meals with Hikaru involve running battles with Hikaru refusing to eat the mini onigiri that Beloved made him and instead demanding rice directly from his parents' dishes, along with anything else that we are eating. In his mind, anything placed in his cup could not possibly be the same thing as what we're eating and what we eat must taste better.

The running part comes from Hikaru wanting the sample food from everyone, so all meal long he will circle the table, asking for bits of this or that; punctuated with grins, smiles, cuddles, headbutts (For some reason Hikaru thinks a headbutt means 'I love you', he's going to be a guy's guy when he grows up), or failing all of that to move his target, outright theft. Lately however he has decided that if perhaps he shared some of his food, we would be more willing to share some of ours. However, Hikaru's idea of sharing is NOT to offer something from his cup, no, that would be too easy, too nice. His idea of sharing is to take some of the food, put it in his mouth and chew it for a bit, THEN offer it to someone, usually me.

He also doesn't take no for an answer and given that we eat Japanese style at a low table on the flood, he has easy access to me, my face, and mouth.

Have I mentioned that Hikaru is not only strong, but stubborn as a mule and refuses to give up?

Thus the other day at dinner, Hikaru managed to force a bit of half chewed bacon into my mouth and then grinned happily. This prompted Makoto to comment, "Aren't you happy, Daddy? Hikaru's being a big boy! He's sharing!"

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