Imagine you have two children – one is reading a book and the other is building a room-sized version of Legoland. (Or a Wipeout replica?)
When it comes time to clean up The Reader quickly puts the book away, while The Builder has to disassemble his weight in Lego pieces. The amount of effort required even gives me pause. I brace myself for what’s coming next.
“It’s not fair that I have so much to do.”
It’s easy to insert the three-word retort that’s been in circulation since parenting began.
Life’s __ ___!
However, I can’t leave well enough alone. I have to turn the moment into something bigger. I have to explain that Fairness is not one of our family values.
Yup. That’s right – we don’t believe in fairness, so if our kids try and run that play, we call foul.
If life were fair, I’d have a better singing voice.
There would be equal distribution of intelligence, athleticism, and health.
We would all have appealing temperaments.
We would be equally creative.
We would have gifts and abilities on par with everyone else around us.
Our resources would be the same.
All families would be nurturing and supportive.
We would have access to education, to opportunities, and to acceptance in equal measure.
Clearly, Life’s Not Fair.
What I want my kids to know is that what they have is way beyond fair.
They live in an exceptional country. They have a roof over their heads – food to eat – enough toys to keep the dog chewing for days – a healthy home life. It’s important that they see the hypocrisy in only wanting fairness when things aren’t going their way.
I haven’t purged whining from my behavior, so the odds are long that my kids will not reform entirely. Still, I’m hopeful that lengthy chats will at least kill the expectations around fairness.
How do you wrestle with this idea? Do you live with a nagging expectation that the world should be fair?