The other day, Leila had a total an complete fit when I told her that one I her favorite Minnie Mouse shirts now belongs to her little sister since it no longer fits her. She was heartbroken. It was a shirt we’d gotten for her in Disney World two years ago. She sees it in the Disney pictures and of course she’s still a fan of Minnie Mouse! I had to try to alleviate her pain by searching for another Minnie shirt for her and I thought we were all over it.
Well, later that evening, we were going through our Christmas stuff and Leila finds an old Santa hat of mine. She takes it out and so innocently puts it on her sister’s head and says, “Here Samara, you can have this hat.” I said to her, “No, Leila, that is my hat. I’ve had it since I was a little girl.” She says, without so much as a pause, “Yeah, but it doesn’t fit you anymore, so now it’s Samara’s.” Boom! In your face, Mommy! (She didn’t say that part, but I’m sure that’s what she was thinking.)
I have to admit, that stung a little bit. That was my favorite holiday accessory. It even had my name on it! But I had just taught my daughter that, with or without her permission on knowledge, I was free to pass her possessions on to her little sister. In all honesty, I never really had to share my stuff. I’m a little selfish that way. I have 2 brothers who are 6 years older and younger than me and a sister who is a whopping 16 years younger. In other words, there was not much obligatory sharing going on in my house. My clothes, shoes, toys, dolls – all were mine for as long as I wanted them.
The truth about hand-me-downs is that we only think of it in terms of the child getting them. We think, to a certain extent, “Aww this poor child gets no clothes of her own.” But the truth is, neither does the child handing down her clothes. Leila is by no means a selfish big sister, but she is human and has attachments to certain possessions just as anyone would. As a parent, I realized I have to give her the opportunity to be involved in the process, rather than just hand off everything she loves without a thought.
So am I going to stop with all of the hand-me-downs? Umm NO! After all, that’s one of the perks of having 2 kids of the same sex! But I am going to make more of an effort to communicate to Leila about what I’m doing and get her more involved in the “giving” process.
Are there any other parents out there dealing with this? How do you make your kids feel happy with hand-me-downs?