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Fair is knowing that all children 
are not the same.
Fair is knowing that all children
are not the same.

It Isn’t Fair!

448 words


Why Life Should Not Be Fair
by Dianne Roth


We have all heard it, “It isn’t fair!”

As a parent, I spent time and energy trying to make things as fair as I could for my children. One apiece, equality in presents, balancing wants and needs on the scale of fairness; it was a lot of work. It was well into their growing up before I began to understand that it was not only impossible to make all things fair, it was probably not even a good idea. The older one deserved some privileges the younger one would earn later. The younger’s road was easier because the oldest taught me how to be a better parent. One was more interested in sports, one in music. How do you balance a soccer ball against a violin?

The real test of what was fair came to our family when the youngest decided to form a rock band (with full drum set). He came to me and asked to use the basement for practices. I cringed, but he agreed to all conditions.

During one practice session, Big Brother had a melt down. Imagine it, rock and roll in the basement, temper tantrum in the living room. If noise was okay, he thought it should also be okay for him to bang his soccer ball against the house for hours! It was not fair to have to put up with Little Brother’s music in his home! He wanted me to kick them out.

I explained how easy it was to support his interest in soccer. His games and practices were away from home and had no impact on our quality of life. I drove him to his games, stood in the rain rooting for his team, and washed his smelly uniforms. But, he couldn’t bang the house for hours practicing his kicks. Supporting his passion was easy. We could do no less for his brother. It was clearly not fair.

As a teacher, fair was also not so easy to apply. I made decisions about children based on their own needs, not on set prescriptions for all. Once, when a first grader organized a “committee” to air a grievance about how it wasn’t fair that so-and-so...., I suggested that they should all be willing to switch lives with that child. That sounded pretty good to them because the child was getting some extra leeway and freedoms, extra time to grow. They actually had not heard what I said. When I repeated it, they allowed a new understanding to come to them. The organizer smiled sweetly, adding, "Okay. Come on, girls."

It was lovely to watch. They learned the lesson that we all have had to learn. Sometimes, life is not fair.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on October 8, 2012