Can we all just agree not to bring toys to the playground?

Or can someone just explain to me the rules on how to deal with this?

Picture it:  Me and the kiddos, exploring our temporary digs in SE near the Navy Yard.  We check out a new playground.  A few somewhat similarly aged boys are also there.  Sounds good, right?

Henry goes for an abandoned toy beside the slide.  An excavator.  Who could resist?  Out of nowhere, a kid swoops in (while riding a bike) yelling for his toy.  I panicked.  I think I tried to negotiate.  The kid isn’t backing down.  I made Henry give up the toy.  Henry raged.

Later, Henry goes back to play with some abandoned toys.  After a minute, same thing.  For a hot minute, it looks like all will be well.  There are three items and the two boys are playing side-by-side.  Then the owner decides he needs all the toys and physically takes the toy.  I didn’t stop him.  Henry raged.

I didn’t feel good about how I handled either of these transactions.  Not one bit.

Coincidentally, I just started reading It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.  I haven’t finished it yet, but if I’m understanding correctly, it seems a better strategy would have been to tell the other boy that Henry was having his turn, and try to get Henry to agree to give it back when he finished.

But . . . it technically is the other kid’s toy.  Do I have the right here to assert Henry’s rights?

Also, I worry about other parents’ reactions.  If we brought a toy and temporarily abandoned it, I would consider it fair game.  But do others feel the same?

Bringing our own toys wouldn’t solve it either.  It is a mathematical certainty that all kids’ toys are more interesting than your own.

So could we all just agree not to bring toys to the playground?  Or at least until I develop a spine to talk to other parents, talk to kids, and help Henry negotiate these frequent interactions?  The slide is pretty cool, right?  Ok, thanks, bye.

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