In the land of the very small, possession is not nine tenths of the law, it is, in fact, the whole of the law. This law, the law of childhood possession, is normally referred to simply by it's common name 'Mine!' and its finer points are often argued in open court. One only has to spend a few moments in a crowded playground to hear multiple small constables patrolling around sternly enforcing this edict while parental mediators cite the popular 'sharing' clause and the less popular 'it's not your turn' sub-clause.
The 'mine' law appears hard-wired into the human psyche and while one doesn't necessarily hear the word bandied about in polite society, one only has to watch grown adults circle warily around a newspaper on the tube to understand that there, amidst the suits and briefcases, stand the ghosts of their mothers admonishing 'she was there first, let her read it. You take you turn later. Yes? Later. Not now, later. Later I said. Oh for crying out loud - look, juice, would you like some juice? Shall we go home now? Is that what you want?'
Anyway, the spud amazed me this week by willingly offering up his toys to the youngest son of a good friend. I was sitting beaming in my chair, pride stashed relatively unsuccessfully under my motherly bottom while he presented the boy with a succession of toys when I realised that, rather than any advancement in his human nature, true to form he had a hidden agenda.
Once the smaller child was safely playing with something about which, frankly, the spud doesn't care, he turned on his heel and ran as fast as his piggies could take him into his bedroom and onto his ride-on Thomas (£3 at the local charity shop - mine!) and proceeded to parade around in a particularly satisfied manner, stopping only when my friend's oldest got onto his trike and used the pedals, at which point, inevitably, everything was 'Mine' again.
It's not all legal beagles around here though. The other day he shocked us by doing his very first swapsie with his mate Jake - and no ordinary swapsie either, they traded their very favourite 'Don't Touch It, It's Mine' cars. I thought I had dreamed it but then a few days later he did it again with a different friend and different toys and... well it was all roses for a couple of days until they turned to... er, to worms.
Pinworms, in fact.
Two days later he came home from his minder with a note saying that he had recently traded something rather less savoury with someone and could we take him to the doctor?
Rather embarrassingly we've had to confess all to our swapsie friends and I rather suspect that this is one trade they wish the spud had kept to himself.