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Selfishness, Thy Name Is Cora

Yes, Cora’s hit that two-year-old
stage of realizing all the “stuff” she sees
doesn’t just belong to the cosmic universe – that
there’s “mine” and “not mine”.

Though she’d rather forget that last part.

At first, Cora was happy to pass things around and share them
– too young to grasp the concept of ownership. And I was
lulled, like a sucker or rookie mom, into thinking she’d be
different than any other child in the world: she’d be the
first one EVER to be ok with sharing. My child would be different,
I smugly thought.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

We had a record day yesterday – I
think Cora threw half a dozen “mine” tantrums before
breakfast. And while I call them “mine” tantrums, they
might more accurately be described as “not
Maddie’s” tantrums. For my youngest daughter, while
possible generous of heart in some ways, absolutely hates for
Maddie to get anything of hers. Anything.

The morning started with our typical “mine” conflict
– breakfast cereal. Cora adores going into the pantry,
staring at the rows of cereal, and carefully selecting her
breakfast for the day. Then she grabs it, marches out clutching it
to her chest, and declares, “Maddie cannot have this cereal.
This is my cereal. Maddie cannot have it.”

Which of course makes my sly four-year-old turn to me with big eyes
and say, “Mommy, I want that cereal too! Isn’t she
supposed to share?”

In the mere seconds it took me to grab a bowl for the girl, Cora
noticed Maddie playing with the train table and was off marking her
territory. Picking up a Percy car, she shouted, “Maddie
cannot have this!” She rapidly moved to the Lady car,
reiterating, “Maddie cannot have this!” She moved down
the line, with Maddie standing on the opposite side of the table
working equally quickly to grab what she could before Cora got to
it. The showdown became epic, there were tears and biting involved,
you get the picture. Multiply that five minutes by sixty and
scatter them throughout the day and you’ll see my life.

I don’t understand how a child can change so quickly from
generous to miserly, but it happens time and time again. The
lightbulb goes on – “Hey, some of this stuff is just
for me!” – right before the hands reach out, claw-like,
to gather the booty into their defensive arms. And the fights

I know this is just a phase, and the manifestation of the
selfishness inherent in all of us, and that it’s simply going
to take time, consistency, and patience to break through this and
raise a generous, sharing child. In time, this mountain, too, will
be conquered.

But I gotta tell ya – I’m standing in the foothills,
and I’m tired just looking at it.


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