“What?? That’s not fair…”
I had just picked Kirsten up from school and she was protesting that Tru had gone swimming with baby Theo that afternoon without her.
“Why does kor kor get to go swimming while I have to go to school??”
I started to explain that being in Primary school came with more responsibilities, and a half day program was part of the perks. And that next year, she would be able to enjoy the same privileges. But then as our conversation went on, I realised that I couldn’t explain away the fact that she’s right, life isn’t very fair at all.
I also realised that I was sounding an awful lot like my dad, when he would say sagely things like “there’s no such thing as fairness in life, it’s not supposed to be fair” when I used to protest why my brother got to do things I couldn’t.
When my dad said it, I remember thinking that he was nuts. Of course life is supposed to be fair. That’s like a basic human right, a right to fairness. If my brother gets to watch TV for an hour, I’m entitled to the same privilege, right down to the very last nanosecond. Fair and square.
So I couldn’t really blame Kirsten for wanting life to be fair. It’s a hard lesson for a kid to learn, that life is arbitrarily unfair, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Midway through our conversation, I stopped and told her, “You’re right, baby girl. A lot of things in life aren’t fair. I know you want it to be fair – I used to feel the same way when I was your age. Daddy and mommy will try to make it as fair as we can, but there will be many times when it just won’t seem fair and that’s ok too.”
“How can it be ok if it’s not fair??” (Kirsten asks the toughest questions.)
“Well, once you realise that life isn’t supposed to be fair, you’ll learn to be happy with the things you’ve got and not get all hung up over the things others have. We only feel like life is unfair when we’re not happy with the things we have.
I mean, it’s not fair that you’ve gone to Disney World twice when kor kor has only gone once. Most people spend their whole lives not even getting the chance to go once.
It’s not fair that you have three amazing brothers and the best daddy and a super awesome mommy (I had to sneak that in!) and lots of toys and most of the things you could possibly want when there are children who don’t even have enough food for dinner or a mommy to snuggle up with at night.
Hey you know what will make you really happy? Being thankful for all the things you have.”
I was feeling rather pleased about my deeply inspirational monologue and at the end of it, she said, “I don’t really get what you’re saying. Anyway, can we go swimming later?”
“Ok yeah, why not?”
“YAYYYYY, thank you thank you thank you!!!”
At this point, Tru turned to Kirsten and whispered, “actually it wasn’t even that fun swimming without you. Playing with baby Theo is quite boring, next time I think I’ll just wait for you.”