That’s Not Fair

fredWhen you’re one of four life is rarely fair.

“How come he got to have Subway? That’s not fair!” This is the opening response after one child is collected from sports practice and notices the telltale trace of bread crumbs on another’s shirt.

“Oh I’m good thank you!” I say in a feeble attempt to change the subject.

“But that’s not fair if she gets to eat all of the guacamole!” One child barked while walking through the door from a birthday party. He’d noticed a sibling on the other side of the room with a bowl in front of her. They can spot an injustice within seconds of entering a room.

I have a standard playlist. Excuses I swore I’d never use, phrases that have come straight from my mother’s mouth. “Just you worry about yourself, not what she’s doing. It all evens out in the end”.

But it doesn’t. The truth is that we live in a constant state of motion and sometimes I make bad decisions when it comes to fairness. It begins with a simple yes you can order ice-cream, which somehow turns into oh okay, you can swap that for cheesecake, and then all of a sudden we’re in prime thats not fair real-estate and someone is explaining to me that I am in fact the worst Mum ever. EVER!

“That’s so not fair! My ice-cream was this big” the third little traveller says forming a shape the size of a pea with his index finger and thumb. “And his cheesecake is this big” his arms are now stretched wide enough that he’s almost removed his little brother’s head in the process.

“But you don’t like cheesecake?” I ask in genuine surprise.

“That’s irrelevant!” he says while trying to remain indignant. But there’s a  smile beginning to form, he can see he’s losing traction and his argument is shaky. For this is the third traveller. My shining boy who has learnt how to let things go. The baby who was born into a world where there was already a baby, a sister 15 months older who threw large objects into his cot to keep him on his toes. His bigger more protective sister saw her role as Managing Director of children’s affairs, she loved him on the condition that he did as he was told. He learnt early that the women in the house were running the show, but there were ways to work around it. They dressed him in tutus, gelled his hair and pushed his stroller. And just when he thought he’d found his place as the treasured prodigal son a smaller version of himself arrived. The baby, the child who announced at dinner last night to his siblings “Mum and Dad love you all equally – they just love me more.”

The flip side of being one of four though, is that although you are acutely aware of who gets what, it appears that you are perhaps less inclined to ask for more or extra. I rarely shop for clothes for my guys here in Qatar. We tend to do a big clothing shop when back in Oz, trips to the store in Doha rarely happen. If you need a particular coloured t-shirt for a concert or a new set of cleats for soccer I’m happy to get them, but my guys all know that a rummage through the bottom of the cupboards is always required. My boys are often sent into their sisters room to look for a hat, the girls have been known to wear the boys shorts. I’m on my third grade 4 recorder concert, my second band audition, my fourth year of basketball. We have cupboards full of supplies and we can usually whip something up. Which is probably why the third little traveller didn’t complain when it came time for his recorder concert.

It was at dinner that he announced he needed black pants and a white shirt THE NEXT DAY. His older sister offered her pants as the solution. “No, I have them” said the second traveller “I wore them last year, I’ll go find them for you.” She was also pretty sure she had the shirt. G and I were impressed, a solution was found.

It was the following morning when I came down the stairs that I realized just how adaptable my boy had become. As he stood in his football gear I watched him remove the diamantes from the pockets of his sister’s pants.

“Oh, oops, I didn’t realize they were bejazzled”.

“It’s cool Mum, they come off. They actually look pretty good.”

At the concert that afternoon I watched him move to the music in his sister’s jeans and his round necked white shirt. Completely comfortable in his own skin, happy to be there, he’d somehow moved from my cute little boy to my handsome man.  It’s not fair that he’s growing up so fast I thought to myself.

It’s just not fair.

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