In true two-year old fashion, however, she has expanded this word’s meaning to include not only what is, in fact, hers, but also what she is using at the moment, would like to possess at the moment, feels she should possess exclusive rights to at the moment…you get the idea.
Developmentally, she’s right on track. That’s how you see the world when you’re two. Supposedly, we grow out of that. But do we really?
I’ve been thinking about this thanks to a favorite show of ours, Olivia. (She’s a precocious pig with a passion for red and a propensity for wearing people out, in case you haven’t heard of her. And YES, I know I am inspired to write about an embarrassing amount of children’s programming, so there’s no need to point it out!)
Anyway, there’s this episode in which Olivia attempts to cure a friend’s itchy foot with some, shall we say, rather unconventional home remedies (think pickles and baby food). In the process, the kitchen, which started out tidy, becomes markedly less so. After a bit, Olivia’s mother enters and exclaims, “What happened to my clean kitchen?”
Did you notice it? MY clean kitchen.
It really got me thinking about the ingrained beliefs we adults have about our homes. How many of us moms, like Olivia’s, chide our children for messing up “my clean kitchen” or caution them not to knock over “my basket of laundry”? How many dads reprimand their kids for scratching “my floor” or denting “my wall”?
How many of us hold the unchallenged belief that though our kids might live in our homes, since they do not pay for them, they do not possess anything like equal rights with regard to them?
I’m guilty of it. But I’m beginning to see the dangers of “my”. I think when we practice radical unschooling, the word “our” becomes the default. Not my needs, but our needs. Not my way, but our way. Partnership and collaboration are cornerstones of the radical unschooling philosophy.
We encourage our kids to take ownership -with all of its rights and responsibilities- when we embrace that partnership. When we grant our kids the self-respect that comes from joint ownership, and release our need to label everything “mine”.