What “Fair” Means to a Seven Year Old

Lately we’ve been struggling with the notion of “fair” at my house.

Actually, let me clarify:  my wife and I seem to have the concept mostly down.

Our 3 kids?  Not so much.

In fact, they seem to regularly confuse the idea of “fair” with the notion that somehow everyone everywhere (siblings, parents, random strangers) is out to screw them and ensure that these poor unfortunate young ‘uns don’t get what they deserve.

Setting aside the whole “what have they done to deserve anything in the first place?” part of the argument for just a moment, if you’ve ever spent the better part of half a year hearing that special whiney whine of kid voices saying “Daaaaad, Evan got more ice cream than meeeee!” And “Mooooommmm.….you read two books to Lily but you only read one to meeeeee!” then you know just how crazy making this can be.

(As a side-note, you probably also understand for the first time why your parents said things like “Quit your complaining.  There’s kids starving in China!” and “If you’re going to complain about what you got, how about I take away that and you can see how nothing feels?”)

Having 3 kids of her own and struggling with this same issue from time to time, my friend Mrs. Walker passed along a wise saying she picked up from a friend of hers.  It goes like this:

Fair does not mean equal.  Fair means everyone’s needs are being met.”

Generally I’m not much for sloganeering, but this little gem seemed somewhat bullet-proof so last night at dinner when my 7 year old daughter Lily said, “Daaaaad.…..Evan got more cherries than me and Jo’s glass of milk is bigger than mine!  It’s just not FAIR!” I took a deep breath and said, “Lily, fair does not mean equal.  Fair means everyone’s needs are being met.”

After digesting this information for 3 or 4 seconds, Lily looked at me and said, “Well, that’s not what fair means in MY world, Dad!  In my world fair means I get at least as much as everyone else and probably a little bit more.”

So much for that slogan.

Guess it’s time to revert back to “Quit yer complaining!  There’s kids starving in China!”

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