We have entered a stage in our house that I fear will be a long one: the stage of wishing for two of every single toy. Which, of course, isn't reasonable or practical but still every single time the girls are going toe to toe over some broken toy telephone that no one has played with in over year, I think "Where did we get that?", which inevitably leads to "Should we get another one?" and then, because I'm equal parts imaginative and desperate, "Can I pull another one out of my ass RIGHT NOW to stop the screaming?"
But even if I were able to conjure up another deeply precious broken toy telephone, I know the fighting wouldn't end there. Oh no. Then they're be some blow-up about whose broken toy telephone was MORE precious, the new old one or the old old one. And one of them would surely look slightly different and therefore be the better of the two and then we'd be right back where we started, with me going slightly insane from the whining.
E is two years old and, therefore, deeply in the MINE stage. Everything she sees is hers. Everything she wants is hers. And, especially, everything that her sister is currently holding is HERS.
We went through this MINE stage with Z, of course, but when she was two, she had the benefit of living in a house where every single toy WAS hers. As CG and I were not about to fight with her over the stuffed dog in her hands, there were precious few instances of her battling over toys.
E, on the other hand, entered a house where every single toy belonged to her big sister. We rarely bought toys for Z, yet we managed to acquire a stunning number of them simply through gifts and hand-me-downs and some universal plastic toy osmosis. We have a decently stocked playroom in the basement and the Useless-Toy Fairy has to visit regularly in the dead of night to take the lamer toys to never never land.
I do not want to buy more toys just so that E has the same number of toys as her older sister. I also am having a hard time asking Z to share all of these things that were specifically given to her. Because, of course, she remembers everything about her toys. She can't remember where she put her lunch bag or her shoes or her favorite head band but BOY HOWDY she can tell you that that long-ignored plastic bracelet that I want to throw away was from the goody bag of so-and-so's birthday party and she needs it to remember that day and she (suddenly) can't bear to be apart from it ever.
Z has helped clean out her toy bins before, which is always an excruciating process during which she claims to adore things she hasn't played with in literally YEARS. We've talked about how we need to make room for new toys and have space to find and enjoy the ones we have by getting rid of old ones, either by giving them to her sister or to "kids who don't have as many toys".
We've also started talking recently about how we, as a family, share most of the things in our house. We each may have a few things that belong just to us, that we don't share, like our toothbrushes, eating utensils, a few special stuffed animals/dolls. But the rest of our things really belong to the whole family. Even the toys.
There's something bigger I want to get through to Z, and I'm not sure if it's possible at this age. That these possessions only have the value that we place on them. That we can chose whether something is valuable to us or not. That letting something go doesn't have to mean letting go of the enjoyment you had with it.
And that the two year old will let you have the red straw if can convince her that the green one is the one you really want.