Everyday — heck every hour — it seems that I’m trying to teach my boys about sharing. At first, I took the totally wrong approach: The just share everything attitude. That approach was spurned by my unwillingness to get into children’s arguments and a little laziness on my part. I was thinking they have to figure it out. What better way for the younger brother to learn not to grab things than to be pushed into a wall a couple of times by his older brother? Is there a better way for the older brother to learn to share than to just give in to the unrelenting energy of a younger brother? After about the 500th wall push — which only resulted in renewed energy anyway — I realized I wasn’t helping my sons learn to share like a man. I was coasting under my man makes fire radar with laziness, and worse, actually justifying it to myself.
I know. Pathetic. But so is that kid at the birthday party who whines and cries because he wants presents that are not for him.
I learned the most important sharing lesson of all in the Marines: Never take the last of anything.
I don’t care if your friend is diabetic, you haven’t eaten for two days, and all he has left is a twinkie. Forget about it, the last of anything that isn’t yours doesn’t exist, period. In the Marines, it was beer. There is nothing better than a cold beer after a 12-hour day in the sun, but the last beer always goes to the man who bought it. This applies to everything.
Do not ask for coveted items or anything you can’t replace out right. I had to learn this the hard way through my older brother.
“Hey man, it’s snowing something fierce. Can I borrow your truck?”
Luckily, I had caught my brother in a moment of weakness — in other words, he was occupied by a woman, and all he wanted was for me to get off the phone. The roads were not only snowy, they were icy, and I ended up sliding the truck into a reflector pole, which introduced a nice scratch and dent to the side of the pickup’s bed. Luckily, my brother is good guy and it only took about five years for him to come around. You get the point, if you can’t replace it out right, don’t take the chance.
Here’s another rule: Don’t force share. Yes, I’m talking about the guy who calls a guy a pussy because he doesn’t drink another beer or a zombie or some other stupid drink. Leave the pushing to guys on the street corner selling drugs. Just because your wife won’t let you buy another bag of chips until you finish the super-zesty-pickle-flavored chips you had to buy and can’t stand doesn’t mean I have to finish them for you. Finally, do not push anything into your kids’ mouth because you want them to try it. Stop it, already, it’s annoying to anyone in the vicinity.
I hate the negatives, so here are some dos for sharing:
If you have extra share it. This goes for clothing as well. Yes, the shirt off your back. If your kid or wife is cold, give up your jacket. A man is impervious to weather, which brings up a whole new post: You can ignore most cold weather for a little while without shivering like a sissy. Try it. Force of will.