21: Fair-Mongering #LifeWideLearning16

My kids are fair-mongers. They see the whole world as a great injustice being put upon them. The indignity of an earlier bedtime than their parents. The inequality of no dessert for one child who has “lost it”. The sheer tyranny of different amounts of time for playing on an iPad vs. a computer. They will scream, “That’s not fair.” And they will be right.

The only retort to those proclamations from children is a cliche. “Life’s not fair” can probably be heard from parents’ mouths the world over. The problem is, though, that life should be. Every child knows it, and so does every Parent.

I want there to be fairness for my children when they go out to compete, whether it is in sport or in the workforce. I want there to be a set of rules that they could follow in order to become the best versions of themselves that they can be. I want them to reach success ethically and through a process that doesn’t privilege them or discredit them. But, that isn’t really all that possible.

My kids are smart.They are able bodied. They look (mostly) white. Two of them are male. They do not want for food or shelter. They have access to the world’s information at the tap of a finger. They have almost everything going for them in a way that can’t possibly be construed as “playing fair.”

So, should I ask them not to use their privilege to get ahead? Should I tell them to hold themselves back when they are so capable and their path is so easy in comparison to others? Or, should I teach them to use their privilege to fight for fairness and to dedicate their lives to creating equity for all?

At the end of the day, playing fair isn’t about not cheating. It is about playing the game as it could be played. It is about seeing the rules as they should be written, rather than as they are.

The point of playing fair is social justice. My kids have an instinct for what fairness means, but I need to take that and make sure that they understand just how warped fairness becomes when it is not about the number of cookies or the minutes of quiet time. I want them to be able to look at the inequity in schools or within the workforce and say the exact same thing that they do when I ask them to put back the three dozen animal crackers they have just filched from the pantry.

“That’s not fair.”

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