About a year ago, I took Toddler for a "play date" at a prospective preschool on the Upper East Side. Some of you might know that in Manhattan speak, "play date" means interview. Yes, that's right. To get into preschool, my little girl was interviewed and evaluated by teachers and administrators and heads of school. All under the guise of play. My theory is that it is the parents who are being sussed out during these little school visits, but that it is for another post. A good one, too.
At this particular play date, Toddler and three other girls were let loose in a classroom. We moms were told to hang back and let our children roam and explore. Toddler did just that. She motored around the small space, doing wonderful things. She pretended to read a book to the lone fish in the tank whom she fondly introduced to a note-taking teacher as Nemo. She played a little peg game, placing those little pegs in the holes with speed and precision. She uttered words I didn't know she knew. She smiled at me from afar. She skipped around the room, her tiny pigtails bouncing. She even cleaned up when prompted.
But then. Things took a turn. In the little pretend kitchen, Toddler spotted a basket of plastic vegetables. One by one, she pulled them out and named them. Impressive. But then another little girl approached and reached for the eggplant. From a short distance, I saw Toddler's expression shift. She grabbed for the eggplant and pulled it close to her. And then Toddler rapidly threw all of the faux veggies back in the basket and hid the basket under a tiny wooden chair. The other little girl started to scream. Toddler kept her cool, crouching down on the carpet, protecting her vegetables. The other little girl was inconsolable, crying big fat tears into her mom's slacks. Her mom glared at me.
I muttered a quick apology. I muttered something to Toddler about how she needed to share. But then the head of the school who had been silent for the entirety of this "play date" spoke up.
"She is hoarding," the head of school said to me, smiling big. "That's a sign of intelligence. At this developmental stage, they are not supposed to share or know how to. She will learn how to share in school."
I smiled. Who knew my not-even-two-year-old would woo the appropriate party by not sharing. Ultimately, we decided to apply early to a West Side school (yes, early decision for preschool. Yet another post.) so we withdrew our application from this East Side school. But I liked that school. A lot. And that woman's words stuck with me.
Yesterday, Husband and I were outside with the girls. (We are still in South Carolina.) Husband carried Baby and I carried Toddler along a stone path. For a moment, Husband was far enough ahead of us that we couldn't see him. Toddler asked where her sister was.
"She's right up there," I said, speeding my stride, pointing. And then I asked her a question, in retrospect a bizarre and tricky one. "Is she your baby sister or your best friend?"
"Both, Mom," Toddler said. The perfect reply. And then she continued. "My sister and I can share everything. We can share toys. And snacks. And we can share all the trees!"
This last bit was my favorite. This image of my little girls sharing all the trees. Sharing something that wasn't even theirs.
In this moment, it struck me: she has learned to share. (Witness the pretzel stick evidence above.) She has learned to articulate thoughts about the concept of sharing. I thought about her one year ago, in that fierce frenzy, in that foreign place, protecting plastic produce.
She is pretty good at sharing with her sister. But not always. They get in little battles over toys and snacks. They have not yet gone to the mat over the trees. We are immensely thankful for Baby's friend who gifted us recently with two babies. One for each girl. For those times when no one is in the mood to share.
These babies now come with us everywhere. Including on this trip. The girls take good care of these babies. They rock them. And burp them. And put them to sleep. Thank goodness for these babies. But still. Sometimes, often actually, they fight over the pink baby. I am not sure they understand pink versus blue, girl versus boy baby, or whether they are exceedingly intelligent and are asking for a sister. I don't know. But when these little struggles happen, I tell them to share.
A simple word. A complicated concept. Is it always good to share? Is it sometimes good to keep things for ourselves, to hoard our proverbial plastic veggies? Is there such thing as too much sharing? As offering too much of ourselves, of our things?
At thirty-one, I'm still learning to share. My time. My love. My life. There is a ubiquity of things we are expected to share. And sometimes it is hard. On this blog, I am learning, day after day, to share my words, my ideas, my stories. Here, I am learning to share bits and pieces of myself. With you. And I love this. This sharing, this scattering of self over a blurry and benevolent horizon, this big girl show and tell. I love it.
But sometimes, often actually, I worry. I worry if I am going too far, giving too much. I worry sometimes that in spilling so much, I am keeping too little just for me. For my family. For my man. For my two real life baby dolls. I worry sometimes that I should be a bit more like sage Toddler of a year ago and protect my little basket a bit more.
Sometimes I wonder if I should stop. If we all should. If we should put all the time and energy and emotion we put into sharing into simply having and living and being.
Thoughts? I am very curious to hear responses from those of you with blogs and those of you without them. Do you think there is such thing as over-sharing? Where should we draw the line between things that should be shared and things that should be kept close? Do you think the phenomenon of blogging has blurred this line? Do you think blogging has encouraged us to share more than we should about ourselves and our worlds?