It Isn’t Fair But It Is Good

We’d gone in search of lavender fleece.  We came home with jewelry making supplies, three unpainted birdhouses in need of jazz, and half a yard of turquoise fleece for, “You know, mom….  more projects.”

The idea was that each of us would paint a birdhouse.

Will and Jen are coming out of that blissful phase of thinking everything they do is fantastic.  They are starting to compare their creations to others.  But for right now they still relish the act of creating.  That means they get out the paints, sit down on the floor and go to it.

Without a plan.

Without first sketching, erasing, sketching again or starting over.

They mix colors and splash paint and laugh as they go.

And when they are done they say, “Well it’s not the best birdhouse in the world, but I bet there’s at least one bird that’ll like it.”

I look at their houses and say, “Crap.  I can’t paint a birdhouse as lovely as yours.  I don’t even know where to start.  What color should I paint?  Should I draw something on the house first?”

And they laugh at me and say, “Just grab a paintbrush mom.  It’s not a contest.”



Later, while I’m cooking dinner, Jenny strolls through the kitchen with a paintbrush in her hand.  She eyes my unpainted birdhouse and says, “Boy, I’d love to have something else to paint.”

*hint, hint*

I say, “Would you please paint my birdhouse.  That’d make my life so much easier.  Then I won’t have to fret about whether my birdhouse is cute or not.”

Jenny says, “I’d love to paint yours, but what about you?  Don’t you want to paint it?  And what about Will?  Is that fair if I get to paint two houses and he only gets to paint one?”

“You’re right, honey.  Of course.  I don’t care if I don’t get to paint one, but that isn’t fair if Will wants to paint another.  They’re only a dollar.  I’ll get Will another and we’ll have a bunch of sparkly, magical, happy birdhouses for the backyard.”


I try to make things fair when I can.

The Universe has taught me that there are plenty of times when life isn’t fair and I can do absolutely nothing about that.


All this got me thinking about how kids always want things to be fair.  Treats must be cut exactly in half.  Kool Aid must be poured to the same line in each glass.  Each kid must get the same number of kisses and hugs.  They have to take turns getting tucked in first because, “That’s fair.”

They spend an inordinate amount of time being told to play fair and treat others fairly.

At the same time, they are preoccupied with making sure that they get their fair share.

If they are lucky – their parents try their best to make things fair, while gently pointing out that life isn’t always fair.  Sometimes you don’t get the same number of pieces of pepperoni pizza, but – thankfully – there may be more pizzas in your life.  You don’t always get to go first or play the longest or have the coolest toys or the best vacations or the funnest parents.

But if you are really lucky, you learn that it’s okay.

It doesn’t always have to be fair.

There’s plenty that’s still good in a life that isn’t always fair.


And because Will reads Calvin and Hobbes every night, I had to include this quote:

I know that the world isn’t fair,
but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?
Bill Watterson



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  1. My little one struggles with things being unfair. I explain over and over and over, but he still cries and gets his feelings hurt. It breaks my heart. I read an article on neurology and leadership (sorry if I had mentioned this before), but it described how the brain processes unfairness. It triggers the same stimuli as fear. So, I understand the tears and slumped shoulders and how he cannot help but feel that way when something is unfair. Just wish I could intervene that synapse!

    Good on Jenny (and you!) for saving everyone from the fear response. :)

  2. Per the last quote: Who was looking over my shoulder recently??!

  3. Z,

    I don’t recall you mentioning that article. That’s interesting… the correlation between unfairness and fear.

    I’m glad you commented. Now I get why my two struggle with things not being fair. God forbid one should fear that I love the other one more.

  4. Donna,

    Perhaps you sent some kind of message on a ripple?

  5. Here is the article if you wish to read it:

    I just wrote an 8 pager on my leadership development plan. I incorporated this model with my INFJ and a couple of other theories. There was a lot of reflection and justification on why introverts are great leaders, perhaps better leaders than extroverts. :).

    The best part of this learning is that it enhances my whole life, not just work. I am still working on presenting why unfairness is ok sometimes. He is not buying it. Guess I am going to have to get creative!

  6. great post, Jesse! I needed to be reminded that it isn’t supposed to be “fair.” Things have escalated terribly with my N in the last 2 weeks. I think she likely hacked my Facebook account. Yet my Pinterest boards are littered with her comments about “Christian forgiveness” and “not judging” her. She also unexpectedly passed me on the highway last week, I’m not sure it was a coincidence… Anyway, I’m thinking I need a restraining order, too much creepiness. My biggest concern is that it won’t fix anything, and she will start breaking the windows out of my house or something…

    But, getting back to the thing that struck me about your post was that I keep thinking HOW does this happen? How do you, out of caring too much for someone, then finally getting fed up with abusive behavior, walking away, etc. How does this end up having to take them to court? Where did I go wrong? Why is this so unfair? Why am I telling my children that if they see this person they should run, not walk the other way, because I truly do not know what she’s capable of? IT’S NOT FAIR. and you’re right, it isn’t supposed to be

    Love the concept of that article, Zaira. I think there’s a whole lot of truth to that. Hope everyone is doing well, and that you all were happy and fulfilled by your crafty endeavors, Jesse.

    hugs, NM

  7. Z,

    Thanks for the link.

    Any chance you’d share your 8 pager? *hint, hint*

    Perhaps he’ll get more comfortable with unfairness as he gets a little older?

  8. NM,

    I’m sorry for all you are dealing with right now. IT IS NOT FAIR. It’s heartbreaking.

    I keep thinking that she must be dealing with some really deep issues – serious hurts – that make her do what she’s doing. It’s very sad for her and absolutely miserable for you.

    But… it is not something you can fix. She just doesn’t understand that.

    Be safe.

  9. Zaira…

    Thanks for that insight on fear and unfairness. That was very helpful to me.

    I think that anytime fear gets triggered, its a survival mechanism inherited from our ancestors so that we will know whether or not to fight the sabre-toothed tigers that might have eaten us back in the day.

    I don’t think anything triggers more fear than survival, even if it’s something like “Did they get more candy than me?” because that seems to trigger an ‘I’m less than…’ response, and then that reptilian brain just kicks in and kicks our emotional derrieres all over the place.

    Wow….I hope that makes some sense. I’m still processing the brain info.

    I love this blog!

    PS: In order to rewire the brain, you may want to try EFT.
    You can sign up for their Tapping World Summit 2012 held in May. (Follow the arrows on the right side to sign up.)

    It’s free! And kids can easily do it too!

  10. Donna,

    Thanks for the interesting link.

    I love this blog too… cuz of you all. ;)

  11. Jesse, check your inbox, and yes, I hope that it gets easier for him as he gets older.

    Donna, that is exactly it! That innate fear response to fight or flight. Mine is mostly triggered when I hear something familiar to what my ex would say. It can cause me to sweat even!

    I, too, love this blog! I have checked out others, but there is not as much ‘meat’ there, if you know what I mean. :)

  12. Z,

    I got it, thx. ;)

    And thank you so much for all that you contribute here.

    Wishing the best kind of fair weekend for your littlest.

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