This note is a list of items the girlchild and her brother recently decided they’d share, alongside a list of items they wanted to keep as their own, exclusively. Shareable (and I’ll rewrite into ordinary spelling):


  • • doll
  • • pony
  • • ??
  • • books
  • • elephant
  • • cowboy hat
  • • headband
  • •  cloth crown (an incredible birthday gift handmade by the mother of the girl child’s future husband, should a husband she prefer, not that either child knows about the whole arranged nuptials thing)
  • • ??
  • • flash light
  • • fire hat
  • • The Secret Garden
  • • ??
  • • top
  • • Flat Stanley

To keep exclusive:

  • • zip

This list didn’t burst fully-formed out of the head of Zeus though.

What happened, in brief, was this: at the end of a long day, the older sister had a big huge honking fit over some special item — a pretty assortment of stickie notepads — that Grandma got her little brother during their weekly day together; she wanted it, its design matched a box she considered special and precious, she couldn’t believe he got it and she didn’t.

Initially the little brother felt defensive/posessive, but when he realized I was going to mediate fairly, and that I utterly supported his special gift staying his, if he chose –particularly given the vast array of items his sister considers special and therefore not sharable — he began simply to marvel at her outburst; older sister continued lunatic fit for a while longer (lunatic fits pretty much always have a deeper root cause, even if the surface trigger may seem compelling); eventually (as is always the case) she became quiet and I sat with them both at the bottom of the steps up to our place. Then the little brother handed his big sister the special giftie his grandma had given him.

(Was that a brief account? No it was not. Still, it felt like it was going to be at the outset.)

“Here, Sissy,” he said.  “You can have the whole thing.”

“Sweetie,” I said to him, “that’s way too much. You can give her just one or two sheets.”

“No, Baba, I want to.”  He held it out again, his eyes staying fixed on her the whole time.

What to do? My instinct to block his older sister’s taking advantage of his huge heart was overwhelmed by, well, the hugeness of his heart. And so was his big sister.  She looked at him, and looked at him, and then basically began to cry even more, but this time, not from a fit of frustration, but more strong feelings than her body/ psyche/ tear ducts could contain. I held her and rocked her, and he continued to watch her, with a mixture of curiosity and tenderness.

I checked with her: Was it that it made her too filled with feeling, his being so generous? and she nodded yes, pink-faced and tears-streaming.  The more she cried the clearer it was that I didn’t need to intervene and “create” fairness between them, I needed simply to abide with them both long enough for the truth of all the feeling present to play itself out.  Or at least this is how it worked this afternoon.  I got no illusions about the permanence of things. Though I do trust in the long-term emergence of truths between people.

After being unable to speak intelligibly, she uttered her first sentence.

“Let’s share everything, [brother’s name].  Let’s go upstairs and make a club about sharing, and go through everything we have, and decide which things we want to share and which things we want to keep as our own only.”

Which is how it came to be that she wrote up this huge list, shared items: 15. Kept ones: 0.


Postscript: By a stroke of coincidence (or not?) I’m reading this wonderful book, The Sharing Solution, which I gave to my co-housing compatriots during the holidays (their blog is here). Want more extremely inspirational stuff on the same topic, which, in a nutshell, is How We’re Going To Save Ourselves? Check out Shareable, by fellow traveller Jeremy Adam Smith (author of The Daddy Shift, co-author of The Compassionate Instinct).  Now I’ll share Powell’s links for each of these books (modest commission if you purchase ’em this-a-way).

8 thoughts on “Share/keep”

  1. Yay! I remembered my password!

    Just wanted to say that those moments of presence, like you describe, are so magical. I am so grateful when we are visited by them, and I am learning more and more about them all the time.

    Is that list written on the special post-its? 🙂

    • Yay mama-om! And yes, as a matter of fact it is. Quite spiffy, those post-its. Fit-worthy? Some think so.

      And Brigindo, funny you should say “amazing.” Not so amazing — could I have seen it a mile, or even a day or two off? — was the fact that the big sister put the recid in recidivist this morning, having a major leagues fit about, of all things, a roll of red tape. Um hmm. Fortunately I believe it’s not so much Sysyphus and the rock (I’d surrender! right now!), but more like the long, slow, encircling journey up a worthy mountain. Over and over again we find ourselves at the same spot, only (we hope) just a little bit higher up. She got through the red tape, as it were, in a bit less time than she did the post-its. Even though she tried to deploy the little brother as an emissary to us on the topic. ‘Spose this is how people develop the skills that will serve them in adulthood. Like guile and collusion.

  2. Wow. Wow wow wow. That’s all I got: just Wow.

    (btw, the second “??” looks to me like “arpiahta”, possibly a play on arpillera? Peruvian fabric collage scene? Maybe?)

  3. Ah, rev. Clearly I was rattling on with my long response to Brigindo when you wrote in. Had you seen the sad evidence of the impermanence of all things, including sweet epiphanies about generosity, perhaps the “Wow” would be replaced by “Ah well.”

    And you are right on. Peruvian fabric collage scene.

  4. If this were a Facebook comment, I would just click “Like”…because, plain & simple, what else is there to say? 🙂

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