“Thats not faaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrr!” she sulks. Fair in the mind of a 6 year old is operationally defined as “I always get the most attention, material possessions, and approving words- more than my other 3 sisters.” Funny, but each of the other 3 girls adhere to the same definition. Her claim of inequity today is quite absurd… her 4 year old sister got her drink served first. How dare the world be so unkind.
At times,however, my daughters do peg unfairness quite accurately. When their 2 year old sister doesn’t get punished for wrecking her room, isn’t expected to make her bed, or her terrible two tantrums are tolerated a bit more. When their 15 year old Autistic sister has a TV in her room when I limit their own television watching and have vowed that they will not have the same coveted prize in their rooms when they grow up.
Sometimes fair is not always even. The pie is not always divided in equal rations. I have a half-sister, my father’s child from a later-in-life marriage after his divorce from my mom after 25 years of marriage and four children who were grown and out of the house. My father has a 10 year old daughter. He is 68. I am 41. My siblings are only a few years younger than I. Of course, when my dad goes, he will not be able to distribute his assets equally, but he will be able to distribute them fairly. His youngest child, if he were to pass before his time, still needs a lifetime of care. The rest of us, grown adults with spouses and children and education behind us are far more solidified in life. This is fair, while not equal.
When a child is ill, disabled, needing your attention, it is difficult to explain that the one who had surgery or a serious illness or an emotional meltdown needs your attention when you have all these little faces looking at you waiting in line for love. There are not enough hours in the day, minutes in an hour, emotional strength in our resevoir to be all things to everyone. Eventually, our kids need to learn the many faces of fair, the reality that things aren’t always fair, equitable or even sometimes just. It’s a difficult lesson, and more is at stake than the first cup of apple juice. But they will learn. We all, unfortuantely, learn.
This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Alicia DiFabio.