“This isn’t fair!”
When the 4-year-old Ballerina uttered these words a few days ago she had to know one of my patented Dad-lectures was sure to follow. Ordinarily, I am of the opinion that the Dad-lecture isn’t a profitable use of my time as a parent. The truth is that when you as a parent start sermonizing it is more about you getting something off your chest than it is about imparting actual wisdom. So, as a general rule, I attempt to avoid the Dad-lecture. “It’s not fair,” however, is one of the things that triggers an automatic Dad-lecture.
The kids all know this, or at least they should. The Zoologist is slowly starting to figure it out because I notice his complaints about things not being fair are getting more and more infrequent. As far as I am concerned, a child complaining about things not being fair is asking for me to set the record straight. When the Ballerina complained the other day, I stopped and pointed out to her that she was absolutely correct. What was going on wasn’t fair. We were attending a child’s birthday party at a local park. I had been talking to one of the other dads who was a good friend of mine, but now, instead of continuing my conversation, I was escorting a 4-year-old girl to the van for a timeout because she had a bad attitude. Did she appreciate my view? Absolutely not, but that wasn’t the point.
My favorite thing about a child proclaiming that something is unfair is that it allows me to enter professor mode. “It’s not fair” is an excellent starting point for discussions, one-sided though they may be, on a variety of subjects. “This isn’t fair” can be the jumping off point for conversations about history, economics, math, science, justice, race, work, almost anything really. A while back the six-year-old Zoologist opined that it was not fair that I wasn’t letting them watch TV. In rapid succession I asked him which TV in our house he had purchased? Which streaming service he paid for? How much of our monthly electric bill he usually covered? Since the answer to all of those questions was no, I then asked him when he planned on getting a job to start pulling his weight. Since he had no plans for gainful employment in the immediate future I informed him that it was indeed unfair of him to reap the benefits of the TV without underwriting at least a little bit of the process. Suddenly, fairness was not at the top of his list of concerns.
They may not be listening, but I am making some great points. If you don’t think so, just ask me.