It’s Not Fair!

by Vicki Larson


“It’s not fair!” I heard one of my boys scream to the other one day.


From where I was in the house, I couldn’t tell what wasn’t fair and which one wanted to make an issue out of it, but it didn’t really make much difference. Each had at some point embraced the phrase as his own, along with “You can’t make me,” “I’m going to run away!” and the ever-popular, “I hate you.”


“It’s not fair!” is an equal opportunity phrase, unconcerned with gender and where you are in the birth pecking order among your siblings, or even if have siblings or not.


Kids are preoccupied with fairness. It always seems to them as if someone’s getting more than they are — more time, more attention, more stuff. They feel it in sports, too, when it wasn’t fair that their team — clearly the better team — didn’t win. They feel it on the schoolyard, when they don’t get picked for a game of Four Square but Johnny, who can’t thrown a ball to save his life, does. They feel it when they don’t get invited to “the” party. Then, at some point, kids realize that their quest for fairness is like the quest for the Holy Grail. They’re never going to find it because, just like Mom and Dad told them, the world isn’t fair. Deal!


Now that my boys are both six-foot-plus teenagers and have pretty much the same freedoms, “It’s not fair!” has all but disappeared from their vocabulary. Sadly, it’s been replaced — “Duh,” “Whatever” and “Omigod, Mom!” appear to have risen in popularity; “I hate you” still seems to be holding its own. Thankfully, we moms have our own counterattack phrases — the “Because I said so” of years past has morphed into “Weren’t you wanting to borrow my car this weekend?”


So I was surprised when, out of nowhere, “It’s not fair!” crept back into my life, once again from my family. Oh, no, not from my kids, but from my 50-something sister.


As is often the case at our advanced age, when who got the beauty and who got the brains has long ago been decided, fairness between siblings is basically about money; specifically, our parents’ money. And so when our mother mentioned that she wanted to leave some money to my kids in her will, my sister had a fit.


“I want my 50 percent!” she declared to me in an e-mail. “Why should I be penalized because of your choices?”


Life isn't fair. And sadly money is often a thing that tears families apart.
My mother sat us down in no uncertain terms and said money would be divided a portion to each person and a portion to each grandchild. So if one family had two kids and one one (current configuration) that would not be a 100% equal division.
But, as she reminded both children, it was HER MONEY, to do with as she saw fit. Her parents decided to leave 90% of it to charity and only 10% to family, equally divided among every living relative. Not fair at all as one of their children has produced 75% of those relatives but again, THEIR MONEY to do with as they see fit.