Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Truth or Fair

Just about any Child Development expert will tell you that two of the pillars of effective child rearing are consistency and follow-through. To a child born first in the family, they can be lumped together into "fair."

As a first born child myself, I can vouch for the fact that every other sentence I said was designed to gauge the fairness of the situation at hand. "That's not fair." "That wouldn't be fair." "She's not fair." "He's not playing fair."

So, it's only natural that my first born, Keith, has this propensity to make sure that both sides line up evenly. And since I am particularly sensitive to his "fair" obsession/compulsion, I try very hard to practice what I preach.

However, Keith's version of "fair" leans far more closely to "advantageous" to Keith. This has led to several rows that ended with me saying something terribly profound, like, "Because I said so. Now go to your room."

This afternoon, I had planned on treating the kids to an early dinner at a restaurant. I smiled back at the three of them, and asked, "Where should we go?"

Now, this was supposed to be a fun thing- a treat- something that we would all enjoy. Instead, this sentence was like opening the cages for hungry lions while a pile of steaks sat in the middle of the den.

"Let's go to Texas Road House," Emma said, excitedly.

"No," Amy whined. "We just went there."

"Yeah, that's not fair," Keith chimed in. "We shouldn't have to go again."

"Okay, where else?" I ventured.

Amy became the spokesperson for ideas:

"Chick fil a?"
"Dairy Queen?"
"No." and "Eww. Gross."

Finally Keith stated: "That's not fair: Why does Amy get to pick?"

"Keith, honey, Amy isn't picking; she is suggesting. You all are voting. I've been hearing 'no' so I haven't gone to any of those places. What do you suggest?"

"I don't know. What about--"

Before he could get it out of his mouth, Amy gave a very exaggerated, "NO!"

"Hey! That's not fair. Amy, I didn't do that to you. Mom, she's not being fair."

"Okay. Back to the drawing board... How about, um, O'Charley's?" I suggested.

"No." "Bor-ring." "No way," Keith finished for the group.

"You all sure are being picky!" I said, becoming increasingly annoyed. This was supposed to be FUN! But right now it was anything but!

"Why can't we just go to Texas Road House?" Emma pleaded.

"Uh-uh. No way. There is NO WAY I am eating there," Keith said defiantly.


"Okay, how about--" was all I got out before World War III erupted in my back seat. All three were singing their own verse of the same song.

Emma was whining, "But I like Texas Road House."

Amy was whining, "No one ever lets me pick. I hate being littlest."

And Keith was rounding out the chorus with, "It's not fair."

I stomped on the break, very nearly propelling Amy into the front seat.

"Okay, okay, we get it, mom," Keith sulked.

I didn't speak a word. I was too mad. How dare they act like such spoiled brats? I had taught them far better than this.

"This is your fault," I heard Keith hiss at Amy.

"Nuh-huh," Amy defended herself. "Emma's the one who kept saying, 'Texas Road House, Texas Road House'."

"My tummy hurts," Emma whined.

I still said nothing. The car got quiet.

Finally Emma said, "I'm sorry, mommy."

"For what?" I asked incredulously.

"For saying Texas Road House."

"Oh, for pity's sake. I'm not upset with you for that, child. I am just tired of listening to you all bicker amongst yourselves. I am certainly not mad at you, Emma! Okay?"

"Okay," Emma said, eyes cast down, still blaming herself.

More silence.

Finally Amy piped up, "Guys, she's giving us 'the silent treatment'."

I still said nothing.

"I just want to go home," Keith pouted.

"Good!" I fumed. "Because I wouldn't take you all out anywhere with me right now. I am so tired of you treating each other in such an ugly way! And you act spoiled fighting over a restaurant. So, stop it now!"

"Uh- mom! That's not fair! It's Amy's fault!" Keith complained.

I pulled the car over to the side of the road and put on my hazards. I turned full around in my seat and looked at each of them. I'm certain steam was rising off my head like smoke off of a fire. The kids looked up, wide-eyed, tight-lipped.

"I think you need to understand something right now," I said in a low, controlled voice. "I am not here to be 'fair'. I am here to be Mommy. And right now, Mommy is extremely unhappy with your whining, fighting and carrying on. We will be going home- NOW."

I pulled the car back on to the road, turned up the radio and said nothing else until we got home.

I ended up calling for pizza. We hadn't had pizza in a long time. And it would save me from cooking.

Keith asked hopefully, pretending to pant with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, "Did you get Papa Johns?"

"No," I replied.

"Oh man, that's not fair. I love Papa Johns," Keith whined.

At this point, I thought if I heard the word "fair" one more time, I might kill someone or slit my wrists or both.

"We're getting Pizza Hut." (Keith cheered.) "And we will eat it, do our homework and piano. Then you all need baths- in water. Then we are going to bed."

"Can we watch TV?" Keith asked.

"No," I replied. Then together we said, "That's not fair."

Keith made a disgusted face at me. I stole his line. Now he had nothing to say.

Finally pizza came and the rest of the evening played itself out. Now I'm in bed and I have to get up early in the morning, which is so "not fair," since I went to bed too late tonight.

Then I go to work, which is "not fair," that I have to actually work to make money.

Then I pick up the kids, which is really "not fair," because I'll have to listen to this same song, different verse, all the way home.

But for now, I'm going to sleep. I trust Keith will have "fair" dreams. I hope I sleep so hard I don't have dreams. I think that would be more than "fair."

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

You know, I was wondering where JL got that from . . . we aren't fair to him either! LOL