Sharing Is Caring

- jim Young

Mother: Always remember, sharing is caring.

Son: What if I don’t care?

Next to learning to talk and walk, learning to share may be the most difficult thing for a child to learn. Admittedly we’ve all seen those cute videos of a very young child instinctively sharing something with a parent, sibling or even a pet that makes us all go “Awwww.”

But as the child grows older, sharing becomes less of an instinct and the child must be taught to share.

One of the difficulties in this is teaching the child “why” he or she should share.

A parent may explain the need for sharing as being “a nice thing to do”. Sometimes however a child just doesn’t want to be nice so that reason for sharing goes out the window.

The child might be told, “if you share with others, others will share with you.” But that concept more accurately describes barter than it does sharing.

“It will make you feel good,” the parent might suggest in an attempt to teach sharing to their child.

“The hell it does!” How does depriving anything that a child wants, regardless of the intended outcome, make the child “feel good”? The child only understands “Eating ALL the cookies is what will make me feel good.”

I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t always very good at sharing. I was fine sharing my toys because I knew at the end of the day, I would still have them. But sharing a consumable commodity was another matter unless I knew there was a large supply. 

“You want a drink of my pop? Sure. There’s lots more in the fruit cellar where this one came from so I can always get more.”

But when one of my sisters wanted some of my potato chips after I had emptied the bag… well, that was another matter.

My little sister Lennie was much better at sharing than I was. Lennie came home one day with candy buttons on a string of paper. I had never had these before and they looked very good. My mother suggested Lennie let me have one to try and I could pay her back when I bought some at the store the next day.

“Do you want another one?” Lennie offered after I had tried the first.

“No thanks,” I replied even though I really did. I was well aware of Section II of the Sharing rules and regulations that stated “if you share with others, they will share with you.” 

I was already obligated to give Lennie ONE candy button from my purchase tomorrow but I didn’t want to be beholden to her for any more than that. My moral debt would be repaid the next day and not a button more.

It was well known in our family that my grandmother who we affectionately called “Gaga” loved Laura Secord Chocolates and she would often get a box of these chocolates for Christmas.

An acceptable custom in this situation would have allowed Gaga to set them aside with her other gifts to take home. There was no expectation for Gaga to share her chocolates so long as the cello wrap remained intact, just as no one expected Gaga to share the jar of jelly she had also received as a gift.

Nonetheless, the first thing Gaga would do with a box of Laura Secord Chocolates was open them, pick out her favourite and pass the box around the room for everyone to enjoy. Half of the box of chocolates would be gone by the time it found its way back to Gaga.

“If Gaga likes Laura Secord Chocolates so much, why does she do that?” I always wondered. I know the “if you share with others, they will share with you” rule comes into play here, but with next Christmas being a year away it would be a long time before Gaga saw a return on her investment. It would likely be in the form of another box of chocolates and the vicious circle would continue. It wasn’t until Gaga died that the circle was broken and I always felt she had been cheated.

My unwillingness to share continued into my teen years. At 14 I had a great love of Cadbury Caramel Chocolate Bars. While I had accepted the general rules of sharing and I always fulfilled my responsibilities when required, I had learned there was a loophole in the rules.

The loophole was this. While I was required (for reasons I still didn’t fully comprehend) to share with others around me… I was under no moral obligation to go out of my way to find people to share with.

In 1967 you could buy a small Caramel bar for just 5 cents. The regular size bars were 10 cents and the humongous ones that I could never afford cost 29 cents.

The problem with these delicious chocolate bars was that everyone loved them. I believe Cadbury used a special material in chocolate bar wrapping that worked like dog whistles on teenagers. No matter how quietly you tried to open your Caramel Bar, the signal would alert any of your nearby friends who would come running for their rightful share.

I couldn’t deny them a piece. “Sharing is nice,” my mother had taught me. “Sharing will make you feel better. If you share your caramel bar with others, they will share theirs with you.”

Are you kidding me? If they had a caramel bar to share with me, they wouldn’t need a piece of mine!

Adding insult to injury Cadbury even made these chocolate bars easy to break into little squares specifically designed for sharing. There was no opportunity to break off a ridiculously small portion. It was as if my mother had instructed Cadbury to do so.

One summer day I waited for a time when no one was around. I had saved up 29 cents and purchased the extra-large Cadbury Caramel Chocolate Bar. Taking care that no one saw me, I quickly walked to the most unused path that led to the bush. I didn’t dare run and risk tripping and squishing the chocolate gold I was carrying.

Using the utmost care to unwrap the bar in silence I sat for a moment and drooled over my coveted possession.

And then I ate it. Every piece. Guilt Free. No one was around ergo I didn’t have to share.

But then something unexpected happened. While my taste buds had been rewarded my stomach didn’t not react well and I became sick.

That day I lost my taste for Cadbury Caramel Chocolate Bars. 

Apparently there was another advantage to sharing that wasn’t included in the rules and could only be learned by experience.

I’ve gotten better at sharing over the years. Sharing love is much easier than sharing things. Sharing ideas with the reward of ideas being shared in return has taught me many wonderful lessons.

Sharing my opinions however is a little trickier as I’ve discovered that not everyone wants them. However, that has seldom stopped me from sharing them. My mother taught me well.

Yes, my friends… Those were the days.

- 30 -

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