Nearly every morning I’m on top of my kiddo to eat breakfast. Every morning’s meal involves constant reminders to eat and a timer. However, yesterday’s first meal of the day was a little different since I decided I didn’t want to harp on her. I was tired from being away for the previous five days in NJ for Rosh Hashanah. Therefore, instead of nagging her, I picked up one of review copies I received while we were away and read it at the table. (Bad form… I know. But it’s better than using a phone at the table, right?!??!)
Isabelle was curious about the book I was reading. “Read it to me,” she requested.
I complied with her request and read Sue Heap’s Mine! to her. She liked it so much that she asked me to read it aloud to her two more times. I capitalized on her interest by requiring her to eat another strawberry, sip her chocolate milk, or eat another bite of cereal every time she wanted me to turn the page. It worked like a charm. She was entertained and well-fed by the end of the third reading.
* * * * *
Later in the day, I walked into Isabelle’s preschool classroom and saw her sitting around a small table with her teacher and three other students. They were playing with a pie that had colorful fruit shapes inside of it. As soon as she saw me, she got loud and started to hog the pie. In fact, once I came over to the table where they were sitting she made a big production of taking the pie away from the group declaring, “Mine! It’s mine!”
I began to say something like, “Isabelle, bring that back here,” but I stopped myself. I turned to her teacher and said, “It’s your classroom. I’ll let you handle it if you’d like.”
I want to see where she’s going with it,” said her teacher. Smart thinking.
We watched her for a moment as Isabelle headed to the play kitchen and one of the other girls, who we’ll call Leah, balked about the disappearing pie. “What are you doing over there?” Isabelle’s teacher asked.
“I’m pretending to eat the pie,” Isabelle declared as she sat down at the play kitchen table.
Makes sense, but it isn’t nice.
Suddenly, Leah jumped up, walked across the room, and grabbed the pie back from Isabelle. (I was pretty glad she did!) Isabelle chased her back to where the rest of us were sitting saying, “I pay-ing wid dat. It’s mine!”
I bit my tongue. Her teacher attempted to negotiate the situation between Isabelle and Leah. But then another kid got hurt and her teacher had to attend to that situation leaving me with two unhappy toddlers, both of whom wanted to play with the pretend pie.
I drew Isabelle closer to me as Leah played with the pie. “Mine! I using dat!”
“I understand you want to play with the pie, but so does Leah. Remember this morning we read that book Mine!?”
“Yes,” Isabelle replied.
“Remember how the little girl realized she could share her toys with Jack, Zak, and the baby? She said ‘yours and mine’ and ‘mine and yours.’ That’s what you can do with Leah. The pie can be a ‘mine and yours’ or a ‘yours and mine.’ You can take turns with it.”
“Okay,” Isabelle said.
I fed her the words to say to Leah to facilitate the sharing situation. Once we practiced a couple of times, she tapped Leah on the shoulder and said, “Want to pay together? The pie can be yours and mine!”
Leah said, “okay,” and just like that, the girls began to sort the berries inside of the pie. Then they took it over to the <> that had been set up in the classroom earlier in the day. They played for a few more minutes before it was time for us to go home.
But before we left, I asked Isabelle if she’d go back to Leah and say, “Thanks for sharing the pie with me.”
She did. And then she gave Leah a hug. And Leah hugged back.
“Bye!” Isabelle said to Leah.
“Bye Isabelle!” Leah said.
Crisis solved. At least for now. That little encounter between Leah and Isabelle was exhausting. What if we hadn’t read Mine! that morning? I have a feeling it wouldn’t have turned out quite as well.
BOTTOM LINE: I don’t know how her preschool teacher manages this stuff all day long. She’s so patient and even-keeled. I can’t imagine dealing with these squabbles, which must happen constantly! (Preschool arguments are certainly more frequent and more intense than upper elementary school ones!)