Thursday, August 28, 2008


My children are very competitive with each other and demand that everything be the same between them. Same bedtime; same amount of milk in the glass; same gifts; same TV time; same seating proximity to parents; etc. It's annoying, but I capitulate mostly because I can't stand the whining when anything-ANYTHING-is the slightest bit unequal. I've tried to reason about how everything doesn't have to be exactly the same at exactly the same time. That one, for example, may have to pick up her room now, but that the other will have to pick his room up later. Or that we just plain don't have enough bathtubs in the house for everyone to bathe at the same time. But there's no reasoning with them; they're like bear cubs fighting over a fish. It's a completely relentless campaign for equity in all things.

As I was mulling it over recently, it occurred to me that I have no idea when or where this sense of fairness originates. How do my young children know things should be equal? I've never told them that. And why do they keep struggling for fairness when life is so obviously unfair? They can be bone-tired and half-starved, but if one has a better seat than the other, they'll perk right up and duke it out. It's tedious and predictable, but maybe on balance, the struggle isn't such a bad thing. After all, what's wrong with insisting that things be fair? We could probably use a bit more equity on a worldwide basis.

So I carefully measure the same kind of yogurt into identical blue bowls, making sure to pour the same amount of honey and granola over the top, trying not to tip the balance too far in either person's favor. I hand out the same size spoons and identical napkins. Mostly I do it for me, I admit, but in some small way, I do it for them. Life isn't fair, but it should be. What we have should be shared equitably. And we all need to struggle for that.

No comments: