Eric was constantly in trouble. His grades were terrible. I was always the “Golden Child”. I could do no wrong. My grades were effortless and at that time, I had no sympathy for his antics. When Eric’s report card showed C’s or above, he was praised and we would go out for pizza. If I had a B, I was questioned and possibly grounded. I was jealous. I had had so many near perfect reports…didn’t that deserve something more than a “great job, Kid.”? I vowed that when I had my own children, they would be held to the same standards and judged equally.
Then I had them and before I knew it, they were walking and talking. For Kylie and Logan, I went so far as to ask for 2 of everything. Easter baskets and Christmas stockings were nearly identical every year. My kids have precisely the same chores and if we got down to the last 1 of something, I simply ate it myself. There was no room for jealousy in my house. For years. we went tit for tat between our two kids and then came the real parenting. The lying, fussing, throwing things, hurting each other melt downs we all dread. Theoretically, if both children commit the same crime, they should get the same punishment.
The problem with that logic, is that they aren’t committing them at the point in their lives. There are behaviors and expectations my 4 year old has had more experience with. There are things that my 3 year old is naturally better at. There are disciplines that work for one and not the other. It’s a delicate balance of constructive criticism and applicable praise for each child.
It also dawned on me that life itself is not fair and fate does not treat us all equally. I was preaching an illusion to my children. I have friends that are in their late 20’s, early 30’s. They look flawless. Some travel. Some party every night. I’ve even had friends that can have a bad day, call their parents and be wired money for some retail therapy. I used to feel slighted. Until I realized all the things I personally had to be grateful for. Over time, I began to learn of their personal struggles: poor health, unlucky in love, crazy hours at work, etc. In the end, it was all a wash.
As it turns out, Eric, the problem child is wrapping up his final year in college. He has made the dean’s list several times. He travels often and is living at home with my Dad to make ends meet. I am the college drop out. I have 2 beautiful children, an amazing husband. We have everything we need and I am in my pj’s as I’m writing this.
I no longer envy my brother. Instead, I praise him for his efforts. His path was no easier than mine but also no less of a challenge. I read somewhere that “Fair isn’t everybody getting the same things. Fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful.” I can’t help but think how very true it is and am thankful for the lesson.