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Let’s Have a Talk about “Fair”

Evan and I

How many times have you thought to yourself “It’s not fair!”? How often do we talk about what is fair and what isn’t?

I HATE the word fair. Hate it. It is a stupid word for a condition that rarely exists. Things are rarely, if ever, fair. What does fair even mean? Google says “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.” “Just” is listed as a synonym.

Fair can be pretty easy at times. Like when you are splitting a Kit Kat bar. These 2 pieces are for you and these 2 pieces are for me. Fair and square. Easy.

Unfortunately, the happy feeling we get in this fair situation can lead us astray in everyday life. It leads us to try to find fairness always. Unfortunately it isn’t always black and white and if we don’t have all the information it can lead us to thinking something is fair when it isn’t and that something is unfair when it isn’t.

What in the heck am I even talking about?

Well, as the mom of a son with some level of special needs, I am often a part of the “fair” conversation. Or at least the whispered conversations that go on around me.

“Did you know that Evan gets to play Lego while the other kids do gym? That doesn’t seem to be very fair!”

“Did you see him running around and yelling? He didn’t even get in trouble! That isn’t fair to my child that he makes such a ruckus!”

“I don’t think he is doing the same amount/kind/type of work that all the other kids are. That really isn’t fair!”

Yep. I’ve heard all of these and more. It makes me want to scream and yell and hit. Maybe Evan’s apple didn’t fall very far from my tree. Because you know what? It ISN’T fair.

It isn’t fair that Evan feels out of control, sad and angry at times even though he tries very hard to keep it all in. 

It isn’t fair that the intelligence that means he is gifted also leads to frustration because his brain works about 100 times faster than his ability to write. 

It isn’t fair that people that don’t know him judge him even though they don’t have any idea what any of us go through in a single day. 

It also isn’t fair that I rarely write about this struggle because I’ve been shamed on Facebook about abusing my son’s privacy because this should be kept private like it is something to be ashamed of or something we could fix but don’t. 

It isn’t fair that you don’t see the hilarious, loving, smart boy that I love so dearly when you see him having a rough day at school. You only see the behaviour.

It isn’t FAIR.

So next time you hear yourself say “It isn’t fair” ask yourself if you know the other side of the situation. What unfairness are they dealing with? Does the unfairness really matter?

Have a bit of compassion for those with struggles and know that everyone is most likely doing the very best that they can, even if it isn’t fair.

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Monday 2nd of March 2015

My daughter is just the same, and we face the same small minded questions. Fair really doesn't mean what most people think it means. Fair is everyone getting what they NEED, not necessarily what they WANT.

Big internet hugs to you and your son. :)


Monday 2nd of March 2015

Very well said and I'm sorry that people make such judgmental statements without knowing the whole situation!


Sunday 1st of March 2015

yes this. As teachers we try so hard to accommodate each kid's needs. It picks me right off when people who have no idea pass judgement on what we do. Plus, I teach my kids that life just ISN'T fair and they need to get used to it.

Merry Kuchle

Sunday 1st of March 2015

Thank you for being a teacher that gets it!

Lisa Thornbury

Saturday 28th of February 2015

Well said and perfectly timed. Just the other day I overheard a parent say "It's not fair that THEY get to park here, when WE have to park in the other parking. It's so busy!" They?! Are you freaking kidding me? I park in the small school parking because my child...with special needs... is met by her E.A. at the door. I park and walk my child to the door so she is safe. How unthinkably unfair of us. It took every ounce of strength I had not to honk right in that woman's sour whiney face and then run over her foot. Sorry. I'm still a little miffed.

Merry Kuchle

Sunday 1st of March 2015

Big hugs Lisa! I totally get it. Oh and a big shout out to all the amazing EAs in the world. E has a great one too that meets him at the door.

Robin @ Farewell, Stranger

Saturday 28th of February 2015

Yes! Fair does not mean equal. Fair means appropriate for the situation. And all of those things people say that you quoted above - those actually are fair, in that they are appropriate. They are just not the same (not equal) to what the other kids "get" or do.

Merry Kuchle

Sunday 1st of March 2015

I 1000% agree. I realize that schools need to respect privacy but sometimes the privacy keeps them from explaining that point. It is very frustrating.