Possession is nine tenths of the law.

To put it in more technically correct legal terms: “I had it first!!”

I admit, it’s a convincing argument.

So what’s the other one tenth? Pouty lips? Weepy eyes? Scratch and/or bite marks put forth as exhibits A and B against the defendant?

I should be wearing a large black robe and funny wig, what with all the metaphorical gavels I have to bang on a daily basis.

Case in point:

This morning my two little boys, ages four and two, were playing with two identical toys. Identical. I cannot stress the adjective enough. Same color, same size, same shape. The only difference was, one was in big brother’s hands, and therefore “cool.” The other was in little brother’s hands, and therefore “lack luster.” Angst and tears ensued.

“But Mom, I had this one first!!” insisted my four year old. “It’s mine!”

All his little brother could say in his pathetic, emotionally moving defense was, “I want that one…sniff…not this one.”

You’ve gotta be kidding me. They are the SAME!!

That’s what I wanted to say, but I knew it would’ve been futile. My mommy brain obviously can’t begin to detect the subtle differences between the two.

When it comes to grapples like this one, I have three tactics. Number one: Distraction. Different toy, different activity, different venue. If those don’t work and I must give validity to the inane argument, I turn to tactic number two: I’ll encourage them to negotiate. Trade. Bargain. Take turns. Set the timer. Supply and Demand. Sit down and read “The Art of the Deal” together by Donald Trump. (He really should publish a picture book version.)

If that fails, I’ll repossess both toys, mix them up behind my back and present them all over again. Once my baby is no longer sure which was the “cool” one, the novelty usually wears off he moves on. That’s what happened today and it worked. Order in the court.

But there are other times when the objects are too big to fit behind my back (a.k.a, a particular seat on the couch) or their eyes are just too teary to see reason. That’s when, and I hate to admit it, I’ll return to tactic number one, but this time with an electronic twist:

“Who wants to watch a show?” I’ll say brightly.

“Okay, but I get to choose!”

“No, I do!”

“No, I do!!”

What I really need around here is a bailiff.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, freelance writer and mother of four small children. You can read more on her blog at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com