Tag Archives: Mine

The one app to rule them all

Every significant disagreement between siblings happens out of sight of the parents. Every single one.

Parents will usually only get involved or directly co-opted when tears start to roll or after a loud crash is heard, followed by a heartbeat of silence, followed immediately by tears and bedlam. As it happens, if a disagreement gets to this point, it’s often too late for a parent to resolve equitably. The best they can do is randomly assign a winner and then they risk the ire of at least one child.

This got me thinking about the potential for a new app, one that both parents download and use with a shared account.

It goes like this; the names of the siblings are captured up front as part of the config. When a dispute arises in the house, the app is consulted in much the same way one would consult an Oracle. Parents could amplify the spectacle here by making a big fuss about the Oracle being called upon to decide who wins. 

Ooooh, I think we need to check what theOracle says…

The more ceremony involved here, the more buy-in you’ll have. The dispute is then catagorised, the number and nature of opposing opinions is entered and ultimately a winner decided based purely on picking the next sibling eligible for a win.

This, I think, is much fairer than a random choice. The idea is also quite straight-forward and thus easy enough to explain to the halflings if you choose to let them in on the trick. It would take the burden of remembering who ‘won’ the last time off the parent and that, I can assure you, is a superfine thing.

The more analytical among us would be able to go back and look at stats like how many disputes there were in the last month, the days of week when disputes were at their peak, who the parent actually believed was in the wrong in each instance (which might reveal which child you love more) and so on.

Yes, literally a wealth of information available for datamining your offspring. The more information you capture about the dispute, the deeper you can dig into your mine.

Fairness is overrated. Most of the time, parents will never know who was actually in the wrong on a given day in a given situation and so there is a possibility that disputes can be awarded to a party incorrectly every so often. But the app will average that anomaly out over time and in the end I think that’s much fairer than parent guesswork after the fact.
I’ll admit it does sound a little more like a turn-based role playing game than a modern parenting technique for resolving disputes but to that I say; you are dealing with children and really the only things they understand clearly are ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’. So this way, they alternate victory across disputes in the fairest possible way. Mathematically. That is until the database storing the history is lost. Then it’s back to The King Solomon version of things. 

Or, you know, you could just flip a coin.



The precious

Ownership of things in a multi-child household is a complex dynamic. The way it works is that you buy something for the eldest child (Dad) and immediately the questions start being asked about when the cascade of things below it will float downstream. For instance, Dad gets a new iPad Air and suddenly the old iPad2 is a technological dinosaur/orphan that desperately needs a new parent and questions around the transfer of ownership begin to surface like bubbles in a tar-pit.

The idea always was to make the iPad2 a child iPad by removing everything except games and educational apps from it and then handing it over to the boys to play with. The problem of course is that there are two boys and only one spare iPad. So there can’t really be a time when we sit both of the boys down with the iPad and let them play because unless we ‘King Solomon’ the device, sharing simply does not take place. It always degenerates into a scrabble of clenched fists, tears and tug of war in which the stronger (or indeed most stubborn) wins custody. The other will then collapse into a heap of despair until the device is handed over or simply removed from his brother (this option transfers tears from one brother to another).

It is, in a word, a conundrum.

There are a couple of options here in that we could introduce one of the iPhones into the mix. The problem is that an iPhone is simply not the same as an iPad when the two are laid side by side. On its own, an iPhone is a marvelous distraction and is welcomed by both boys whilst having a haircut or waiting at a restaurant for dinner to arrive or even on a long car trip. But next to an iPad it is like we love the child holding the iPad that much more. Not true of course, but it is a difficult thing to explain to a child. Would rather tackle where do babies come from.

So now we have to come up with a schedule of sorts. Something akin to a custody agreement of who gets the iPad at what times. I have no doubt that the first time-slot allocation will dissolve into a small puddle of salty self pity for the brother that isn’t allocated to the slot, but that cannot be helped. The transfer of custody between the brothers after the first one’s time is up is also bound to raise a few hackles. That too cannot be helped.

Of course we could just hand over one of our new iPad’s (my wife has an iPad Mini) to the child without a pad and then I think the children would be happy. I suspect though that there will be parent sized puddles of salty tears about which one of us has to hand over ‘their precious’ to the kids.

What is that word again? Oh yes, a conundrum.

The mine, yours and ours

Ownership is a very important concept to most children and the younger they are the more important it is. Obviously if they’re infants and spend the lion’s share of their time on their backs in baby grows staring at the ceiling, possessions aren’t that important unless you’re talking bottles, dummies, boobs and possibly a fluffy toy or two.

My boys are always testing the boundaries regarding the ownership of things. Actually though, for our eldest who’s a little older now, the mine vs. yours is not as important as it once was. Whereas he used to spend his time fighting over playing with toys with his younger brother, he now spends an equal amount of time trying to prevent his brother from playing with a toy. It would seem then that his focus has changed from “It’s mine” to “It’s not yours”, a subtle difference.

He tests us as parents when he thinks he can get away with it, tests his brother non-stop and I’m guessing that he does it at school as well, though possibly to a lesser degree since we haven’t heard any complaints. I’ve explained to him many times that he doesn’t actually own anything in the house, he’s merely the primary user of certain things under my roof and I am in fact the owner (I being the collective I of my wife…and I). If I’m honest, all of these types of discussions with him have ended in tears because he refuses to accept the reality of his situation. I have a feeling he’s going to be the type of person that people describe as being stubborn later on in life. Perhaps he’ll list that trait as one of his areas for improvement on psychometric tests and job interviews, at least then he’ll own it and let’s face it, stubborn people aren’t pushovers.

He’s a good boy, but he’s a thinker. Some things he refers to as ‘mine’, so certain toys obviously, his room, his bear, friends and so on. Other things that he’s less than interested in are ‘yours’ or someone else’s, anyone else’s for that matter, so things like toys he no longer wants to play with. Finally there are things that are ‘ours’ and this is where his genius shines through, these are new toys that his brother has that he’d like to play with They become ‘our ‘ toys and obviously anything that’s ‘ours’ must be shared because that’s a rule of the house. It’s brilliant! Imagine applying that philosophy in your adult life.

I’m going to have to keep a weather eye out for these kinds of things from our eldest at pocket money time or I may just find myself converting the lion’s share of ‘my’ salary into ‘our’ pocket money and doing it of my own volition too.

Something about being able to sell ice to eskimo’s comes to mind…