Life was relatively peaceful when we only had one child. It was when we had our second one that our firstborn began to notice something: life is not fair. No longer could he always get his way (which, I guess, is most people’s definition of “fair”). He had to ponder a new concept called sharing, and it wasn’t working out too well.
Don’t get me wrong — David and I try to be as fair to our kids as humanly possible. We try to give both of them the same amount of attention, material goods, and love. Yet, they cry foul each time.
“Dad, Meg got more than I did!”
“Mom, it’s not fair that Josh gets to go again!”
When it comes to splitting drinks, foods, and treats, we let one of them do the splitting and the other the choosing. You won’t believe the precision with which they accomplish this. Not an ounce of extra falls on either side.
The amazing thing is that they both equally believe that I am far more fair with the other child. “Who gets to have what they want more often?” I ask them. They immediately point fingers at one another like pistols. This seems like an utter incongruity, but since I am equally unfair to both of them, I must actually be very fair. I feel pretty good about this. My kids don’t really see it that way.
It dawned on me and David one day, though, that we were actually doing them a disservice by making things fair. The harsh reality is that life is not fair. The world doesn’t owe us anything, and we will not always get what we want. No matter how much we try to protest it, someone is always going to be smarter, taller, skinnier, faster, better looking, more talented, or richer than you or me. By creating a false universe where things are artificially fair, we are not preparing them for real life.
In fact, we should be downright outraged — not because we are getting the short end of the stick but because so many others around the globe are! While we live in a very wealthy culture and have so much more materially, many people subsist on less than $2 a day. We should be absolutely furious that kids in third world countries can’t go to school because they have to spend hours everyday transporting drinkable water from the river to their villages. We ought to be righteously indignant that so many children are being orphaned because HIV and AIDS are wiping out an entire generation of young parents. No, the world definitely is not fair.
In a few weeks, I am going to travel to the Dominican Republic with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian and relief organization with whom I’ve worked for over 15 years, to personally see World Vision’s work in that country. And get this: I have chosen to pull Josh out of school for four days so he can travel with me. Yes, I realize this could potentially damage his 8th grade transcripts and a Tiger Mom would never do this (thus, Panda Mom me), but on the other hand Josh will most likely learn some lessons which he could never learn inside a classroom. I believe these lessons will last him a lifetime.
While we’re there, we are going to visit Francis, our sponsored 13-year old boy who lives in the Dominican Republic. He lives with his grandparents and four siblings, which makes me believe that his parents are deceased. Francis enjoys mathematics and baseball. We plan to bring some mitts and balls as gifts so Josh and Francis can play catch together.
Is life fair? No. I hope Josh never forgets it.
What do you do to nurture fairness in your home? How do you teach your kids about world poverty? Share with us below, and click here if you’d like to sponsor other World Vision kids like Francis!