Hi. At the time of writing this, my children are 8 and 5. We have been to parks many, many times. Sometimes we take stuff to play with. Other times they just play on the equipment there. But never once in either of their entire lives have they gone up to some child they have never met before and asked if they could have a turn with whatever that child was playing with. Now, granted, my children are annoyingly asocial so are generally not interested in whatever anyone else is doing but also they understand when something is not theirs. It's different if they're with friends or at school where things are communal (although I'm writing this in the middle of a pandemic. No sharing pencils, please) and sharing is expected, if not mandatory. Although, to be honest, my son isn't great at it then, either. But what I'm talking about is when we're minding our own business and some rando comes over and wants to use our stuff. They don't want to play with my kids. There's no "Hi, do you want to play together?" or "can I play with you guys?" It's always "Can I have a turn?" or "Can I play with that?" They just want to use their stuff. Now, as three passive, non-confrontational humans, this is always awkward. I know that my daughter might say "yes" but would have felt pressured to do it and would then get more and more unhappy as her things were taken away. My son would also not be into it so all I would be doing is making my own children unhappy at the expense of someone else's offspring who we don't even know.
As the adult in the mix, I suppose it's my role to come out with something like "why don't you all play together?" or some crap about taking turns. I have yet to work out a good line to say. If I did this, however, I know my son would immediately protest and my daughter would go into a sulk so it's easier to try and dissuade any fellow humans from trying to interact with us.
I understand if this sounds weird and unfriendly (hey, I've just realized that they get it from me - waddya know?) but most of the time we don't want other people messing with our stuff. If you have read any of my previous posts, you many know that saying "no" is not my strong suit. But when it comes to other people's kids, I've started taking actual pleasure in it. We were at a local park recently. There is a large field there and my son had set up four small plastic cones to represent two (extremely narrow and close together) football goals. I am talking about "soccer" if you're American. **Sidebar - why is American football called "football"? It's mainly a throwing and running game and the "ball" isn't even round!** Anyway. We played kick-about for a while and I could see a group of three young boys eyeing up the proceedings. My son eventually got bored and went off to do something else and I sat with my daughter on a nearby bench. I could see the three boys edging closer and closer to us, egging each other on and taking turns to get pushed forward and run behind each others' backs. I knew what they were after.
Eventually they came close enough and one of them plucked up the courage to say "Can we play with your cones?" Oh, I was so dreadfully sorry to tell them no. They didn't have a ball. We did not know them. They didn't want to join in our game. They weren't my cones to share, they were my son's and he wasn't there to give his consent (or not. He definitely would have said no). I also didn't want to have to retrieve said pieces of flimsy plastic from wherever they might end up when we were going to leave. I didn't say all that, obviously. I did use my son as the excuse for why I wasn't going to let them play with them and they walked off, looking crushed. I did not feel bad. Also, as mentioned above, we're in the middle of a pandemic. Nobody should be sharing stuff or even getting near enough to ask! For God's sake parents, mention this to your kids once in a while. We had an encounter at another park in September where a little girl was continually getting really close to my kids to their clear discomfort. I said "Sorry, we're just playing by ourselves to keep safe? Have you heard of the coronavirus that's going around?" to which the girl said "I haven't heard of any virus!" Great, great.
One last example to finish my rant. We met up with another family at a park (yes, another one. All these stories take place at different parks, get over it). They are all about social distancing which means that the mum is constantly yelling at her kids to stay six feet away from mine. She complimented my son for using his "strong words" when he explained that he didn't want her little girl up in his face as "she might have the corona" and then did nothing to help him out when her daughter blithely ignored his protests for the rest of the meet up. As we were at an outdoor space, we had arrived before them and she didn't want to use the playground equipment, I had brought some stuff for my kids to play with while we were waiting. If they all managed to communally have fun with it, yay. If not, I could just put it all to one side. The other mum freaked out when her daughter touched our skipping rope (which we obviously lick and sneeze all over all the time) but got offended on her son's behalf when my son didn't want him to have a turn on his wheeled go kart thing. If you're worried about picking up the virus, why would you freak out when one child touched a plastic skipping rope handle but not when when another has to sit in a used seat and touch a plastic handbrake? My son didn't want to use his roller in the end but didn't want anyone else to use it either. OK, jerk move but it's his and while I did ask him repeatedly to let his friend have a turn, I'm not going to completely steamroller him by ignoring his feelings (stubborn and annoying though they might be). So I carried the roller back to the car and all the way back this other boy (who is two years older than my son i.e. 7) kept asking when he could have a turn and why wasn't he getting a turn. I explained that it was my son's and he didn't feel like sharing. I apologized and thought that would make him stop but no, he kept going on about it! The way back to the car was a slope and the roller can get up to a good speed. It can also tip over if you turn sharply. We didn't happen to bring a helmet and I could just imagine the appalling accident that would definitely occur so I maintained my stand. The other mum's solution (I would have groaned and told my child to be quiet or they wouldn't be allowed to watch YouTube) was to say she would just buy her son one. Thumbs up!
So, in conclusion, although I do wish my children were more open and friendly with others, I do not think it is wrong or rude not to share. I do, however, think it is rude and entitled for a child to expect to play with another child's stuff, especially if they're strangers. I don't want to be made to feel like a mean mum of weird kids (even if we are heading that way) if my kids aren't happy giving over possessions to other people just because they asked for them. What do you think?