Sometimes there are issues with my children's behavior that can be chalked up to childishness or immaturity...Jack's love of streaking around naked, Tess's sudden love of running through the house shrieking for no reason at all than to hear her own voice...irritating, but things that I know will pass.
Other behaviors are more troubling, because they show character issues that need to be addressed, and I'm not always sure how to do that. And if you do address them, that often doesn't mean *fixing* them...don't we all have those character issues that we are called to constantly work on? (Ahem...I'm blogging again when my house is a mess. Sloth, anyone?)
Kain is very...greedy. I almost said materialistic, but I don't think it's that really. His greediness does often center around things, but not just things. Attention, time, physical affection, food...the greed for these things is all understandable given his past circumstances, but we have been feeding these needs as best we can for three years now, and still the hunger for all of these things rages out of control. In fact, this greed is one of the top two causes of his misbehavior I think. Have we not figured out how to fill this kid's tank? Is it not possible to do so?
Anyway, one of the more amusing/irritating (depending on my mood and how hard he is willing to do battle) ways this greed shows itself is his need to *own* things. He loves *stuff*, which is why I almost said "materialistic" earlier. He will often (twice just today) come to me with some random item and ask if he can have it. Usually this is an inconsequential item...a small toy that lives in the playroom, some trinket he finds outside, even something he's fished out of the recycling can. Often I don't even know what he means by "have it". In our house, as I think is often the case in houses with several kids, most toys, books, games, craft materials, dvd's, etc., are held in common. Even when a child receives a something as a gift, eventually it migrates to the common areas of the house and becomes rather communal. There's just not space to have "Kain's legos" and "Jack's legos" and so on. The kids know that, generally speaking, they are expected to share their things and in exchange they get to share other people's things. If something gets damaged/lost in the sharing, then the child responsible will make good on it. And any child that complains about the arrangements is bound to get my "one of the benefits of having brothers and sisters is that you will learn how to share and get along with other people and become a better Christian/wife/husband/father/mother/employee/friend/human being someday" speech.
Anyway, so when he comes out of the playroom with some random matchbox car or old Happy Meal toy, what does he mean by "have it"? Can he play with it? He already is doing so. Can he carry it around and such for a time? I guess, if no one else wants a turn with it. Can he put it in his backpack (where all his most prized stuff lives) and refuse to let anyone else touch it? No, of course not. And he knows this. And when I ask him, "What do you mean by 'have it'? What is to be gained by carrying it around in your backpack that can't be gotten by just playing with it when you want to do so?" And he can't really answer me. So why do we have to continue to have this discussion at least a couple of times a week for the last three years? And how can I teach this child to have a more generous heart? Because his need to lay claim to everything else (time, attention, food) is a constant source of struggle in this house. He receives more of all of these things than any of the other children, and it's still not enough. That is troubling...to try and try and not be enough for a child.