I reached into the freezer, mouth-watering at the thought of a frozen Thin Mint cookie melting on my tongue. I had been saving this box of Girl Scout cookies- the tried and true favorites since I sold them as a Brownie long ago. The box felt suspiciously light as I lifted off the shelf. The seal was broken and peering inside I found one sleeve. Pulling it out there were five cookies left- five! Who the hell touched my cookies?
There’s a rule that kids seem to instinctively know: What’s theirs is theirs, but what’s mine is theirs, too. This seems to only apply to the Mom of the house. No one touches Dad’s stuff. I never saw my boys “borrow” anything from their Dad without asking for permission. Mom’s stuff is global. If you need it, go get it from her. Nail clippers, toothpaste, nail polish remover is just the start. I’ve had a kid take the toilet paper roll out of my bathroom because he was out, and he didn’t have time to go into the garage and get another roll.
Buy yourself some ice cream when your supposed to be on a diet- no problem! It won’t be in the freezer when you sneak out late at night to scarf down a couple of spoonfuls. Those cute little boots you want to wear to work- gone. Your daughter has been wearing them for a week. That expensive shampoo you splurged on? Only an empty bottle left in the shower.
I’m not a selfish individual. I grew up with five siblings. I heard, “why don’t you just share it with ______? Translation: share or I’ll punish you. My favorite: “Don’t be so selfish! Give your brother/sister some of that.” So we shared, whether we wanted to or not.
When I was able to buy my own clothes, make-up, and record albums, I could finally say, “No, I won’t let you borrow my new shirt. I bought this with my money.” My parents agreed that what you spent your own cash on, was yours. I was generous, but I liked being able to decide when I wanted to share.
Then I had kids. First you share your body for nine months, longer if you breast-fed the little tyke, but that’s just the beginning. In their eyes, everything you possess is communal property.
I’ve made peace with this phenomenon at home. In a year’s time, the last leech, I mean child, leaves the nest. Now I am beginning to see this plague has spread to work. My stapler was missing two weeks ago. My umbrella was found mysteriously on the other side of the campus. I’ve begun to lock up my desk every Friday afternoon, because I never know what will be shared next.