My son’s current developmental stage includes an emerging concept of fairness. He and I often have differing opinions of what that concept looks like. I think everyone living in a house participates in chores. He thinks a parent telling him to do a chore represents a breakdown in democracy deserving an immediate protest. He did try to write a letter to Congress to change the voting age to four. I admire his passion and his persistence though sometimes I feel very tired.
Prior to having children, my husband and I watched movies at movie theatres that sometimes did not start until 10pm on a Friday night. We ate dinner out spontaneously without first viewing the menu online to ensure the availability of “kid friendly” food. We talked to each other often with time for pauses and deeply staring into each other’s eyes. We questioned whether we could have children, and the lack of certainty left me crying about life not being fair.
In our present season of life with young children, we watch a rare movie in fragments over the course of multiple nights on Netflix. We only eat at restaurants before 5pm so that we do not have to wait for a table because the bag of distractions will not get us through both waiting for a table and dinner. We communicate with each other with a combination of speech, spelled words, gestures, and an occasional phrase in pig Latin. Sometimes, in moments of exhaustion one or both of us whines that life is not fair.
So, my dear son, I want you to know that contrary to your foot stomping demonstrations, I do understand. I, too, whine about the fairness of life though in front of you I project calm acceptance. I, too, cry when I feel overwhelmed. I, too, want all the things I want right now though I try to teach you patience that I often lack myself. Unfairness exists in life, and grownups often do not cope with this fact any better than children. Watch a group of adults try to stand in line at the post office a week before Christmas. Today, I went to a movie with a friend at 1:30pm on a Sunday. We watched Tom Hanks excellently portray Mister Rogers, and received a parental pep talk from our childhood hero.
In this season of my life, I am unlikely to get to watch a movie at 10pm on a Friday night. You cannot swim in an outdoor swimming pool in December. We both have chores, and neither of us likes them. Are these things unfair or do we simply have misplaced assumptions that all people should exist in the same season of life at the same time? Either way, I do understand. I remember your season, and from your perspective, I must agree. Life is just not fair. From my perspective, I still agree. Life is just not fair. However, I have a new love of matinee movies because a momentarily escape from chores and responsibilities offers a special magic, different from the late night magic of Friday night, but magic just the same. All seasons present challenges, but all seasons also leave their own traces of magic. See the unfairnesses and the injustices. Keep speaking up, but remember to also find the magic.