“No! I am using all of these!” O would say to anyone who approached his train area, or reached for a train. C sat next to him for a good fifteen minutes, attempting to make a variety of plans with O. “When you done?” “This train?” “Train with you?” But to each plan, O said “No!”
A asked a few times to use the trains and when O stuffed all the trains underneath his legs, A picked up his train tracks and took them apart.
“No, A! I was using those! Help me put them back together.”
A started to help put the tracks back together. C said, “I help.” T said, “I help too.”
O jumped up and down and said, “Thank you A, thank you C, thank you T!” Eventually, when the train tracks were back in place, the children flowed naturally into using the trains with O. O was beaming while we played in the group, then said to me, “This is better with all my friends. Thank you, everyone.”
It was difficult for me to resist the urge to solve the problem for O, C and A. I put out lots of trains that morning, yet O wasn’t satisfied having just some of the trains, he wanted all of them. I made a few suggestions at first such as, “Could you pick some of the trains to give to C?” or “Maybe knowing they can use the trains when you’re done will help them wait.” But eventually, I stopped, and stuck to sportscasting. “You want the trains, O is sitting on the trains.” I wonder if O would have made the realization that using the trains with his friends actually enhanced the play experience, had I forced him to do so rather than waited for it to happen naturally.