Last month, RB40Jr was crying when he stepped off the school bus. It took me a while to calm him down and get the story out. It turned out he was disciplined by the bus driver. He and another kid were changing seats while the bus was moving. That’s a big no-no. The bus driver saw my son and made him sit all the way in front so he can keep an eye on him. However, the driver didn’t catch the other kid. My son complained that the other kid started it and he got off scot-free. Junior was super upset because he was disciplined and the other kid wasn’t. He cried and complained that it is not fair.
Well son, welcome to the real world. Life is not fair. This is just one incident. I got stories like this quite often. There are around 70 kids on that bus route. It’s insane. Can you imagine trying to drive while the kids move around, throw stuff out the window while screaming, and/or fighting? That’s a tough job.
Luckily, we moved and RB40Jr is now on a different bus route. This new bus has about 10 kids on it. Wow, what a difference. It’s much quieter on this bus and he loves it. (He has hearing impairment in one ear and loud ambiance noise hurts his ears.) Now, is that fair? Not really. This route is much cushier. The bus driver on this route must have seniority or something. It’s a cakewalk compared to the other route.
It’s a big unfair world
I’m a bit behind the news cycle here, but the college admission scandal inspired this post. Is it fair that the rich and famous can cheat and get their kids into the best colleges? No way. If they hadn’t gotten caught, we wouldn’t have known about it. From what I read, this whole investigation stemmed from a parent who was cutting a deal with the prosecutor on another unrelated case. If this guy didn’t blab, the “college placement consulting” company would still be raking it in. Rich parents would continue to cheat and get their way.
What about the Asian-Americans college admission issue? Harvard and other colleges discriminate against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard. My son will have to deal with that when he’s older. It’s crazy that race is still an issue today, but that’s life. African Americans and Latinos face way more discrimination than Asian Americans in all facets of life. That’s not fair.
Of course, it’s one-sided. Our son has a ton of advantages, too. He was born in the US and is a boy. Those are two huge advantages already. He also has two loving parents, a comfortable home, plenty to eat, internet access, indoor plumbing, a great school, clean clothes, a good brain, and a growing college fund. He has a ton of advantages over many kids his age all over the world. It’s a big unfair world, isn’t it?
Deal with it
What do you say to the kids when they complain that it’s not fair? I told our son life is not fair; deal with it. That’s just the way it is.
My advice is – don’t get caught. That’s probably not the best advice, but it’s practical. Of course, I tell him to follow the rules, too. But kids can’t follow rules all the time. Inevitably, they’ll break them. In those occasions, don’t get caught. If you get caught, you’ll be in trouble. It’s simple.
Now that I think about it more. “Don’t get caught” probably is terrible advice. It’s okay at this age because they aren’t really doing anything too bad. However, the consequences of breaking rules will escalate when he grows up. He will have to weigh the consequences against what he gains by breaking the rules. In most cases, it’s probably best to follow the rules.
But, “rules” aren’t always the laws. Most of them are just social norms. I broke a “rule” when I retired from my engineering career at 38. Society has all kind of expectations, but you don’t have to follow all of them. You can go your own way and do your own things. As long as it doesn’t hurt other people, I think it is fine to break some rules.
Life isn’t fair, but I can’t complain. I’m in a good place now. You have to be optimistic and overcome the challenges life throws at you. I think that will be the biggest lesson for RB40Jr. Yes, life isn’t fair. But you need to keep going and try to succeed. Never feel like a victim. Crying doesn’t help. Get over it and keep moving forward.
What about you? What do you tell the kids when they complain it’s not fair?
Here is a life lesson from Johnny Lawrence. Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.
Image by Anna Samoylova
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