Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When "It's Not Fair," Came to our Library.

"Here, now read this one.  This one isn't too hard."
Violet's power of delegation was obvious as she handed him a book.
She had rummaged through the teetering tower of books and sorted them in order of reading level,
as he reassigned the books according to his interests.

Dinosaurs, sea creatures, and any reptilian form were sure to push out the others.

She had turned the timer on, one for him and one for herself as they worked to mark down the minutes in their summer library reading folders.

The first few days of the reading folders brought much appreciated silence to my world.
It waned as the days passed, but still, there was a much more concerted work effort with the reading minutes this summer.  
He was proud that he could read;
and he liked the worlds that he met on the pages of those early hot summer days.

When the summer days grew cooler and the sunburned noses were replaced by the end of summer's fading tans, we turned in the minutes and then waited for the results of the reward drawing prizes:
the more minutes read, the more chances to win.

The call finally came: Violet and Lillie had each won a prize.

My heart sank.

How would I tell my boy, the one who had strived with an awakening zeal for the rewards of aiming at a goal, that his hard work had not been rewarded as he had hoped.
How would I tell him that his little sister who had not even spent one-third the time he had
was getting the prize he wasn't.

My mother's heart said, "Get him a prize, too."

But my "hard facts of life" side said,
"Will life always be fair for him?  When he wants, will he always get?
When he works, will he always be praised and fairly rewarded?
When he loves, will he always be loved back?"

Do I help him through a hard lesson, or do I build a often not-reciprocated sense of
"I deserve, " in him.

I told him on the way to pick up the prizes in the car.
I knew the outburst of tears would be better to hear in the truck than in the silence of the readers at the library.

I explained to him the joy that can come from being happy for somebody else,
that working hard and knowing you did a good job while having a good attitude anyway,
even when somebody else gets the reward,
can be a form of winning, too,
one that is far better than a toy prize.

He didn't like it.
He liked it even less when we all headed back to the special room filled with all the waiting prizes, and he watched as his sisters were handed their parcels.

He said he didn't like it.
I said I understood but that he needed to work on his attitude even when it wasn't easy.

He did.
He worked to wipe away his tears as I reminded him of the times where he got things that his sisters didn't, like the fishing trips with Uncle Alex, the dessert Daddy let him finish off,
the bedroom he has all to himself.

He started to see that fair is not what is always going to happen,
but that sometimes it goes in his favor, too.

I knew it would take years to really grasp the meaning of letting go of "fair";
a lifetime for most of us.

 As we stopped at the charity store to pick up the old bread for our cows,
the kids visited the toy section.

Mr. Mouth was teetering at the top of the shelf,
one of Levi's favorite games he had played at his grandmother's house,
and one we didn't have.

It came home with us,
because even though the lesson of "it's not going to always be fair"
 was one I know he needed to learn,
the minutes of tears in the truck and our discussion of it would be enough this time.

After all, I am still his mother.

And everyone knows a good round of Mr. Mouth can pretty much shift anybody's bad day
into a good one.


  1. Oh boy, did you ever get that one right, Mom.

    Good job.


  2. Miles got a plastic pocket protector while Bethany won a $25 gift card from amazon. Harrison won nothing and read 8500 min, which was 7700 min more than his siblings. Yes Unfair came to our house too. They are used to unfair though by now. I am sure it wouldn't have been this easy if they were not teenagers :) What a sweet mama you are! :)


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