Imaginary things have such real meaning to kids.
Playing Minecraft, Calfgrit8 gave Calfgrit12 a diamond sword. A diamond sword is made by crafting three diamonds with one stick of wood. Now, diamonds are not easy to find in Minecraft, but I can get a couple or so just about every time I mine deep — which is pretty much every time I play for an hour. We each have several diamonds saved up. I could make probably six diamond swords right now, but I don’t really need anything better than iron.
Anyway, so CG8 gave his big brother an imaginary item in an online game. Big brother hung the item on a wall in his imaginary house in the online game. A little while later, CG8 had giver’s remorse, and wanted the item back. Well, actually, he wanted stuff in exchange for the diamond sword. CG12 argued that it was a gift, not an exchange. But what CG8 wanted for the sword was stuff so easy to collect, bones and seeds — stuff you can accumulate accidentally in 30 minutes of playing. Even so, CG12 argued that he shouldn’t have to give anything in exchange for a “gift.”
So CG8 went to his brother’s imaginary house in the game, and took the sword off the wall and back to his own house. And all hell broke loose in our real home.
“You stole my diamond sword!” CG12 shouted.
“No, you stole it from me!” CG8 shouted.
“You gave it to me!”
“I wanted to trade!”
Now it should be noted that Calfgrit8 plays on the computer upstairs, and Calfgrit12 plays on the computer downstairs. So the shouted argument was loud enough for them to harangue each other 30 feet apart, around walls, and up/down a stairway. I let it go on for a couple of minutes, thinking, (read: hoping, praying), they would solve it without my needing to get involved. But it kept going. Then CG12 came upstairs, and CG8 met him at the top of the stairs, where they continued shouting and threatened physical violence on each other. I had to step in at that point.
I had to shut down the Minecraft play time to take each boy separately into another room to ask exactly what had happened and was going on. They both told me the situation, but of course with their own personal twisted perspective. At the time I stepped in, CG8 had his diamond sword. I ruled that he keep it and CG12 should just let the incident go. CG12 didn’t need the sword — he had just hung it on the wall of his imaginary house for decoration. If he actually wanted the sword, he could trade what CG8 wanted for it. But no, he decided it was the principal of the matter, and he refused to trade even the easy trash his brother was asking for.
You know, parenting is hard enough when arguments and fights break out over real world toys. But it gets absurdly difficult when the struggles are over completely imaginary things that can so easily be duplicated and replaced by just continuing to play the game they’re playing for fun.