"Fairness does not mean that everyone gets the same. Fairness means that everyone gets what they need." Rick Riordan
That's how I see things. But living in a household with four unique and diverse personalities there is bound to be a difference in opinion.
My son is 8. He's very literal. Metaphors are a waste of breath on him. He also sees the world in a very different light. We were reading fairness quotes and I shared mine with him. He immediately objected to it. I'm not surprised. Marvin's quotes on fairness were these:
"Treat others the way you want to be treated" The Bible
"A person is a person no matter how small" Dr. Suess
" Remember that there are others watching what you do even if you think there is no one there. Even stuffed animals have eyes." Marvin Fields
O.k. the last one creeped me out a bit and now I'm going to make sure his animals stay far out of my room, but you get the idea.
Lately fairness has reared its head at our house. I knew it would come. I was just hoping that it would have been longer in coming. Like when he was 18.
It started simply enough. The mail came. Marvin had gotten a Valentine card. With money. He was over the moon. Three dollars is quite a bit when you are 8. Heck, I'm happy with three dollars! After the usual happy to have money dance he got quiet.
"Mama, where is Cary's card?"
"I don't know son. Maybe it will come in the mail tomorrow. I've got to make dinner." And I blew it off. I had people to feed, a dog to take potty, and Cary Lynn was trying to throw her communication device off her tray.
But as I was rushing around at a fast clip Marvin sat down at the table, hands folded and head down. A sure Marvin sign that a storm was a brewin. The Valentine was pushed aside and the money was scattered. I knew then that this conversation wasn't over. So I kenneled the dog, parked Cary Lynn in front of Peppa Pig, turned off the oven and sat down.
"Mama, why didn't Cary get a Valentine? It isn't FAIR! If I were sending cards I would make sure that everyone got one. What if she's sad."
Sad? I looked over at Cary Lynn as she was laughing at Daddy Pig and hitting her device. I really don't think she felt terribly slighted. I was pretty sure she would not be mired in despair anytime soon.
But that didn't matter to my son. What mattered to him was that she didn't get an amazing treat. I was honestly at a loss. Marvin is a sensitive and remarkable kid. He's compassionate and kind. He loves his family. He loves his sister. So I had to scramble.
"Son what do you think we should do? How can we make this right?" (Yay!! Score a good parenting question for me!!)
So Marvin thought. Then his face lit up and he ran to his art supplies. He made Cary Lynn a beautiful card. He then took 2 of his 3 dollars and stuck them in the card. He ran up to Cary Lynn and yelled that she got mail.
After she had calmed down from being spooked she and Marvin enjoyed the card, the money was put in her piggy bank, and life went back to normal for my son.
While I returned to my chores a little teary I started worrying. This isn't the first time Marvin has noticed Cary Lynn being treated differently. He sees it all the time. It bothers him. A lot. When we go places and see how others interact with her or ignore her. The questions come later. And I know that they will only get harder as time goes on.
How am I going to answer? What will I say? I won't always have a brilliant shining response. I got lucky on the parent dart board this time but what happens next time? I can't change how people treat my kids. I can challenge them on their perspectives, but it's still their choice at the end of the day.
My kids are both amazing. I see it everyday. The mom in me sees what the outside world doesn't. I can only live in a way that hopefully sets a good example for all the eyes in my house (including the creepy stuffed animals) can see. And that's something you can quote me on.