12 April, 2008

The Tiny Chiclets Parable

Life is Good! I say that everyday and I believe it, but life isn't always fair. Any parent with more than one child can tell you equal and even distribution of anything is impossible. I have a friend who has attempted, with dogged determination, to make everything equal for her two children. They are now grown adults and she still does the same, to the penny. Our children were raised with as much fairness as is possible, however, sometimes one simply needed more than the other. When that was the case they received whatever it was that they needed; whether it was time and attention, or money. The other one understood that we would do the same for them, if and when there were a situation that called for unequal distribution. I felt then, and I still do today, that this understanding helps to build character and develop compassion for others. I'm reminded of the lesson that my children taught me when they were small. We had rented a beach cottage for a week with another couple, our good friends, they didn't have children at that time. One morning during that week my friend took one of our children with her to the grocery store. I don't remember now if it was our daughter or son who went, it doesn't matter anymore. The child who went to the store returned with a package of Tiny Chiclets, a huge prize! The child who remained didn't receive a prize but, seemed happy and content with whatever it was they were doing at the time, having remained with the rest of us on the beach. Later, I learned, to my shock and amazement that the "remaining" child had flushed the contents of the offending prize package down the commode. There was screaming, wailing and tears. There were insults flung, and hurt feelings, but eventually life returned to normal; whatever that was back then. I have thought back upon this incident many times and chalked it up to 'kids being kids', but it did open my eyes to how perceived favoritism, even for a moment, could either be a devastating or power-full dynamic, depending on one's position. The actual "flushing" act, though childish, was a way of leveling things out. It was one child's way of saying: "You had something, I didn't, and now we both have nothing; we're equal." This was a perfect teaching moment for this parent. I remember talking about entitlement after one child expressed the thought that they should have something simply because the other one did. Over time these children understood the lesson. Now they are adults and have come to appreciate each others successes based on their own, individual choices. I'm baffled by adults who demonstrate the same entitlement mentality that I saw in my small children way back when. I daresay that we wouldn't have constant news stories today about dramatic credit debt and epidemic foreclosures if there was broader understanding of the "Tiny Chiclets" parable. Thanks for indulging me in this "soapbox" moment.

Life is Good!

22. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot.
Try to nip small problems in the bud.
Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.


Shelina said...

This is a great post Mrs. G. My mother tried to treat us the same. In the chicklets story, she definitely would have bought two packets of chicklets so the one who stayed home would get a packet too - or at least made it clear that the packet was meant to be shared.

I agree though, that equal isn't always necessarily fairer. As you say, it could lead to a sense of entitlement, and while it is good to feel entitled, there is something to feel more entitled than others, or always want the same as everyone else without having to work for it.

It is hard to find the right balance either way. One child might just ask for more and therefore always gets more, while the other is always willing to settle for less.

Quilt Memories said...

Ceramic1I always tried to teach my children that life is NOT always fair! It may be fair for YOU today and Me tomorrow, it usually evens out. One of lifes hard lessons, but one I think needs to be taught to all children.. So Amen, Mrs. Goodneedle.....J

Barb said...

Very interesting read, thank you it has reminded me of my years of growing up! I grew up rather poor and my mom would often provide one of something that had to be shared. To share, one sibbling would divide the other sibbling would get first picks, this prevented the problem with one piece being cut larger then another! Memory flashbacks can be very revealing and helps one to understand 'why' we do things certain ways! The things that make us go 'hmmmmmmmmm!

Libby said...

You are so right about the current situation - there is a sense of entitlement that seems to be running through folks. The one that says, 'I should have everything you have. I should have to have it right now. And I shouldn't have to work for it. Gimme!' Life isn't fair or equal - but we've all got to work out a way to get through it. Starting with teaching our children that lesson is the best way.

Katie said...

I remember teaching my children that "fair" was giving each of them what they needed, not giving them the same things. Indeed, it's a hard lesson. :-)

Teachergirl said...

How terrible...I hope the "flusher" still feels guilty about this temporary lapse in judgement! :)

leigh anna said...

as you instructed me to do.... i asked someone to tell me about the chicklets...and it was funny to me how "the flusher's" eyes lit up as the story was told.

apparently "the flusher" still feels that the necessary action was taken and is quite proud of the decision that was made!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I cringe every time I observe parents trying to make it things all fair and even ... what a false and UNfair lesson to teach.

That wrongfully gained sense of entitlement is rampant in the city where I live and lies at the root of SO many social ills.

Life is absolutely anything BUT fair or even, as most of us can offer countless personal experience.

Good for you for taking this soapbox moment!

Perry said...

Great post. It seems as if our young adults that grew up thinking they should always get somethiing still feel the same way. They still don't want to share, especially the highway we all drive on, lol. The world just doesn't seem to turn right anymore to me, it is all wonky.