It's hard as parents when we see our children dealing with the concept of fairness. It is difficult to explain to them that sometimes things do not work out the way they want, and sometimes, sadly, "life isn't fair." Perhaps they do not get picked for a part that they want in the school play (we've had that conversation with B before) or perhaps a friend gets a toy that they themselves really, really wanted, or even that the teacher does not give them a score that they feel they earned. The world is full of little things like this that remind us that no, things aren't "fair."
When a fellow classmate of mine told our Contracts professor "that's not fair," during a review of a case, the professor replied "Fair is a 4 letter word." He meant that he lumped "fair" in with all of the other "bad" 4 letter words (I'll let your imagination run wild here), and therefore did not believe in "fair," particularly in the U.S and California court system. He meant that as lawyers, we were to throw out our own beliefs in what we thought was "fair" or "unfair" and instead just read the law and apply the rulings.
Try explaining that to a kid. Generally speaking, things with B have gone fairly smoothly, and she typically does not dwell on things that she thinks are "unfair." (Although she has mentioned that it's not fair that K gets to do certain things from time to time. When those comments start, we remind her of all of the fun things that we did with her before K showed up and remind her that it's not "fair" that K missed out on those things. We ask if maybe we should play catch-up by leaving B at home the next time. That usually ends those conversation.)
The difficulty as a parent, I think, comes when we deal with situations that aren't "fair" to us, as adults. It is one thing to explain away a difficult situation to our child, by saying "well, sometimes life isn't fair," but what do we do when it happens to us? Right now, I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach, just rolling around and boiling, that makes me want to scream. I want to yell and rage... it's just not fair!
What is not fair, you ask. Well, each year at B's school, the PTA auctions off 2 sets of front row seats for the various grade level plays. For the 1st and 2nd grade years, we bid on those seats and we won. The auctions are held during Back to School Night. This year, I placed my bid as usual, on one of the sets. As we were leaving the school, I checked back and saw that no one had outbid me, but that someone else had bid on the second set. At the PTA meeting this morning, I checked in with the coordinator and she checked the sheets for me. While no one had outbid the other family, someone had doubled my bid!
My initial reaction was that of my almost 3 year old. I wanted to scream! I wanted to cry and stomp my feet and throw myself on the ground in defeat.... how could they do that!?!?! How could someone do that, leaving the other (lower) bid alone and doubling my bid?!?!? ARGH!
I'm trying not to take it personally (I hope it was not a personal thing) and at the same time, I'm trying to stop my brain from working out possible solutions. At the end of the day, the family that outbid me for those seats did so "fair and square," even if they left the other sheet alone (with a lower bid.) It's like losing an eBay auction at the last second to the person who "lays in wait" for the auction to be ending, before swooping in to steal something. I can't fault the family who won, since they probably were at the school later than we were and signed it as they left. (The "back to school" part is done in 2 sections, so that families with 2 kids in school can visit both classrooms. Since we only have 1 there right now, we go to the first session and then head out, back home to relieve the babysitter.) They won, we lost. Move on, right?
At the same time that my rational brain is saying "it's over, just deal with it," the other side of my brain is kicking me for not going back at 7:10 p.m. last night (the auction ended at 7:15) and standing over the sheet to beat out any last minute bids. (If it was that important to me, I would have, right?) That same part of my brain is wondering what kind of "wheeling and dealing" I can do to get more seats. Maybe I can offer to "buy" an additional set of seats at the same rate as the highest bid? Or maybe I can offer to buy some second row seats? Anything? Buehler? The money goes to PTA, it's for a good cause, right?
For those of you sitting there wondering what the big deal is, I will tell you that things can get pretty crazy when you're talking about premium seating at a grade level play. School starts at 8 and parents can start dropping kids off at the back playground at 7:30. There are parents who drop their kids off as early as possible and then sit in the Multi-Purpose room to wait for the show (which starts at 8:30 or 9), snapping up those seats. By show time, it is standing room only and if you are an unlucky parent who decided to come just before show time, forget it. You're watching from Siberia at the back wall. For parents like me who are forever trying to capture every single memory on film, it's torture to try and watch a performance from the back row, hoping to get just 1 or 2 good pictures.
So, this year I lost. I must pick up the pieces of my shattered day and move on. At least, that is what I keep telling myself. It's not like there aren't other front row seats (how early will I have to get there - or send Rob- to grab those?) or second or third row seats on an aisle, so that I can still get good pictures. I just wish this feeling in the pit of my stomach would go away. I just wish that little voice in my head would stop screaming "but it's not fair!"
Now I know how my kids feel.