In the Name of Utter and Absolute Fairness

Oh, hell. What’s “fair,” anyway? Who came up with that concept? I hate fairness.

This morning, in the car, we had something like this:

Wyatt: That’s MINE! Give it back!
Rory: [silence]
Wyatt: MOMMY! She has my motorcycle! Give it back.
Rory: You didn’t say please.
Wyatt: PLEAASE give it back! It’s mine!
Rory: [silence]
Wyatt: Roo-RYYY!
Rory: You didn’t say it nice.
Wyatt: Pleasegivemebackmymotorcycle.
Rory: I’m not gon’ give it back unless you ask me nice.
Me: Rory. Please.
Rory: I was just lookin’ at it.

And then, approximately four miles later:

Wyatt: No it’s not.
Wyatt: It’s not.
Wyatt: Ok, it’s yours. I’ll give it to you if you say the magic word.
Wyatt: That’s not the magic word!
Wyatt: [in a tone of immeasurable enjoyment] That’s still not the magic word!
Wyatt: What’s the magic word?
Me: Rory, come on. Did you not JUST do this to him? Did you not JUST keep his motorcycle until he asked “nicely” for it? Just say please.
Wyatt: [now enjoying himself way too much] Yeah, say the magic word!
Rory: [utterly and totally outraged at my taking sides] GASP! WAH! SOB! SHRIEK! WAHHHHHH!
Wyatt: That’s not the magic word!
Me: Oh, for God’s sake. I’m pulling over. You two let me know when you’re done.
[Wyatt hands over paper airplane. Rory sniffles.]
Wyatt: We’re done.

A minute later they’re singing a song together, but I’m still going back over this. Was I fair? I didn’t take Rory’s side when she wouldn’t give Wyatt the motorcycle, but then, he didn’t scream bloody murder, and we hadn’t just played out this scene. But when I did take Wyatt’s side, ooh, he seized on it! He loved it! I should probably have just stayed out of the whole thing, but I’m a captive audience in the car (which is surely why this happens). I just couldn’t hold it in. I’m a fool and patsy, aren’t I? And even worse to still be worrying this over.

If Rory weren’t adopted, if we hadn’t had that royally bad year, I wouldn’t even ask myself if I was being fair. Frankly, as among the other three, I don’t even care if I’m being fair. Sometimes I am gratuitously unfair just for the fun of it. Yep, I gave him some of my drink! And then I drank all the rest all up and now I couldn’t give you any even if I wanted to! Tra-la!

But I do worry about it. And she worries about it. If I DO give Wyatt a sip of my drink, she must have one immediately. If she has even the faintest inkling that someone else has just been given something, she’s there immediately. “I want dat!” “What?” “What Sam got!” It doesn’t matter what it is. I want that cough medicine. I want that pencil. And so, even when I know that I’ve been “fair,” I’m always counting. what I give, and I find that means I give less. No one, every, gets a willing sip of my coffee. No one, ever, plays with my phone or iPad. No one, ever, gets a bite of my good scone or a taste of my yummy new kind of cookie–because if one gets it, they all have to have precisely equal amounts, and then guess what’s left for me?

I hate fairness. It’s so…unfair.

3 Responses to “In the Name of Utter and Absolute Fairness”

  1. slawebb says:

    I’ve heard Vicki say, “Everything is fair, it’s just a matter of perspective.” I think that we need to teach our kids that everything in life isn’t even and everything in life is fair. It just depends on how you look at it.

    I have a screamer and whenever she starts her bloodcurdling screams I become completely irrational. Something clicks inside me and I will do almost ANYTHING to stop it. But there in lies the problem. Because my child KNOWS this is my goat and eats it every time. It is so hard not to get involved in our kids affairs. They want to draw us in to show the other child…I don’t know…mom, loves me best? I was right? I got more? Something. But it is so hard to ignore. I think you got it right when you stopped the car and got out. I haven’t done that yet. The one time I sent my oldest out of the car for a major tantrum she walked off…in the snow…in a different town. Then I felt I needed to get involved.

    But it’s always better if I let the kids fight it out. If I don’t get involved (in the small things) they will learn not pick petty fights to get my attention. They will also learn how to workout disagreements on their own. When they come to me ‘telling’ on another for such and such, when I’m thinking about it, I’ll say (as Vicki suggests) that sounds like a problem for you. Put it on the Problem Solving board and we’ll find a solution at Family Meeting. If they need a solution or answer RIGHT NOW, I make it very unreasonable. They are usually willing to wait.

    But good for you for pulling over. I still need to do that.

  2. Susan says:

    I love your blog so much. You’re so honest and such a good writer. Being a parent really sucks sometimes–it’s just so damn hard, day after day after day. When I read your blog I feel like I’m not the only one struggling.

  3. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Thank you so much! Things are so much easier than they were when the kids were younger, but there is so much that is still a slog. Blogging helps…I can always plan a blog post in my head when things are tough!