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Katy England Katy England
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edge staff writer


The tank engines of war

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Christmas was pretty awesome. Kids came downstairs, marveled at the lights that we had put up last-minute, ate breakfast, opened presents and had a lovely time. This was after a lovely evening of decorating cookies at Grammy and Grampy's house, playing with their cousin on my husband's side, and much joy and fun to be had. Merry, merry!

Second Christmas was also great. My brother and sister-in-law came with four cousins of various ages and heights (from smaller than my kids to taller than everyone else in the house) and much fun was had playing, high-fiving, giggling and opening even more presents. Merry, merry!

But once third Christmas rolled around, the kids blew a fuse. It's unclear if it was just the cumulative stimulus of multiple visits; the lingering head-colds that they kept passing back, forth and sideways; the Thomas the Tank Engine set that had to be shared three ways; or some dread combination of all of the above. But they lost it. All of them separately and together gone.

When you space your kids out, you don't have the same quandary that crops up with three kids all at the same age wanting to play with the same thing. Yes, it will be awesome when they start pre-school and already know about sharing because they had a crash-course in it growing up. But it's a hard lesson. Most kids have a least a year for a learning curve. Some have more, and some never have to worry about living with another grabby person in their house. But everyone has to learn to share.

Our trouble went beyond sharing toys. Since these trains go on tracks and the tracks are located in one spot, the kids also had to learn that they had to share space if they wanted to play together. And they couldn't. I mean, there were times when it worked out - whole minutes where someone wasn't melting down into a puddle of pure, undiluted emotion. But we've learned that sometimes the best answer is to just take a break. And since it isn't always practical or beneficial to our sanity to keep putting the kids in timeout, we put the trains in timeout.

And outside of the initial sadness of losing their new pals, they calmed down significantly.

I remember hating that my siblings got things I didn't. I remember my little sister's first birthday, pouting as she got to smash her hands in the cake and I had to eat my slice with a fork (not my fingers). It wasn'tmybirthday. Life isn't fair. And I had four whole years of being the baby of the family before I was handed that lesson. My kids came out sharing face time, sharing toys, stealing pacifiers and smacking each other.

I have a video clip of my girls fighting in utero.

They have never not had to share.


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