The aspect of parenting that I find the most confounding these days is how to referee the endless arguments between the boys over fairness, ownership, and whose turn it is for something. I know that I had these same arguments years ago with my sisters, but the subjects were: Who gets to read Tiger Beat Magazine first; the curling iron; and use of the (one) telephone line.
Yesterday the conflict in our house centered around songs on itunes, here's how it went:
The boys were sitting on the couch consuming their daily dose of obnoxious cartoons, and a commercial came on TV for the CD of the songs from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks. Timmy asked if he could get those songs on itunes. I agreed since for once the music he wants is age-appropriate, and it costs less this way than buying the CD for $19.99 plus shipping and handling. I suggested that Tim use the credit from an itunes gift card that he still has from Christmas. He dug out the card and downloaded the songs to the computer and his ipod.
Later, while Timmy was having a snack in the kitchen, he realized that Jeffrey was over on the computer putting one of those songs on his ipod.
"You can't do that those are MINE!" I ask Tim why not if they are already paid for, but he's just hollering at Jeff to stop. I explain to Tim that he should share, it's not taking anything away from him to let Jeff do that. "Well he owes me a DOLLAR then!"
I do not like this behavior. I begin a lecture about how "That is not how we are in this family" and don't you remember "Do Unto Others..." Meanwhile Jeffrey slinks off the computer and up the stairs.
I'm still trying to convince a grumpy Timmy that he should not be so selfish when Jeffrey reappears, and hands Tim a dollar bill, which he accepts.
"Tim you should not accept that!" I command.
Jeffrey batts his angel eyes and squeaks out in his sweet little voice: "It's alright."
"It is not alright! Timmy I insist that you hand that dollar back to your brother right now!"
Timmy softens his defiant expression and hands the dollar back to his darling little brother.
Then Jeff starts to dash away and says: "It's alright because that's YOUR DOLLAR! I took it from your room! hahahahaha!"
I remain confounded about this parenting task but at least they make me laugh.