No Fair! (Part 1 of 2)
I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.
—Lynn Anderson, Rose Garden
One evening while I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, Hannah obediently swept the living room floor with the dust broom, pushing around the dog hair and dried mud that had accumulated over the past few days. Sweeping the living room was the last task on her chore board left to be done, and once she finished pushing the detritus into a pile, she’d be free to add 15 more points to the total score she’d accumulated so far that week.
Her sweet little voice, a bit tense, broke the silence of concentration. “It’s not fair, Dad,” she said. “You just work in your office all day, Mom just sits around and drinks coffee and I do all the chores.” If I’d have had milk in my mouth it would have shot out of my nose onto the newly-cleaned counter top.
I’ll show you what’s fair and what’s not, I thought. I’ll load you up with so many chores it’ll be the only thing you do all day! But I refrained from the impulsive spewing and responded to her observation like an adult. “If I didn’t work,” I explained, “we’d be living under a bridge in a cardboard box.” So there. “And besides, Mom doesn’t just sit around and drink coffee all day,” I clarified. “She also drinks wine at night.” Ha! Actually, she works just as hard as I do, maybe even harder, but I guess Hannah doesn’t think teaching homeschool, herding eighteen four-year-olds twice a week, running our business, cooking, and keeping the house in tip-top shape is work. Hence the wine.
At seven, it seems nothing in life is fair to Hannah. One morning, after breakfast, I busted a butter cookie from the Royal Dansk tin and popped it into my mouth.
“No fair!” Hannah yelled. “Dad gets to eat a cookie in the morning.” Nope, no fair.
Shortly after Hannah learned how to feed herself, she also learned how to negotiate the amount of food she had to eat to “earn” dessert. Just as quickly as Hannah figured out how to negotiate, Mary and I figured out how to bribe Hannah into eating more substantial food before allowing her to ingest the traditional after-dinner bowl of pure carbs. Over the past year or so, the post-dinner sparring match has gone something like this:
Hannah: Dad, I’m full. Did I eat enough to get dessert?
Me: Ask Mom.
Hannah: Mom, I’m full. Did I eat enough to get dessert?
Mary (irritated): Well, if you’re full, how do you have any room for dessert?
Hannah (pointing to her plate): I’m full of this food, but I still have room for dessert.
Mary: What do you think, Dad?
Me (to Hannah): Eat five more bites of chicken and half of your rice.
Mary: And all of your broccoli.
Hannah (arranging her rice into two uneven piles on her plate): How about three more bites of chicken and this much rice?
Me: Okay. And all of your broccoli.
Most of the time Hannah will comply with the negotiated caloric intake, earning dessert, which, in most cases, is a bowl of Mary’s heavenly homemade vanilla ice cream, which outdoes Blue Bell hands down. I usually eat two scoops, and I give Hannah one scoop if she’s not topping it with a cookie, or a dollop if she is. Nine times out of ten these are the words emerging from Hannah’s mouth after I set her bowl on the table: “No fair! Why does Dad get two scoops and I only get one?”
My response: “Because I weigh five times as much as you do.”
It’s a fact of life that life’s not fair, and no matter how much Hannah whines and moans about my getting more computer time than she does (because I work) or I get to eat a whole biscotti while she only gets a quarter (because I’m the dad), it ain’t gonna change. The Bible is very clear that God never promised us a rose garden. Life’s not fair. Even Jesus said so.
“‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,”’” he proclaimed during His Sermon on the Mount. “‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’” (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV®, emphasis added). “No, it’s not fair,” wrote novelist Chuck Palahniuk. “but what makes earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven.” Nope, life’s not fair.
Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes