It’s not fair: a tale of woe and injustice against a 3 year old

I’ve noticed in the past few weeks that my 3 year old’s vocabulary is actually getting more sophisticated. He was a late talker so I’m always amazed, and sometimes shocked, at the words and phrases that fall NOT so trippingly off his tongue. It’s not just his vocabulary, but he’s using words and phrases at appropriate times and for correct reasons as well. Like this morning, we were involved in our twice a week struggle with getting dressed for school, Max in one corner looking pretty beat up and worn, but still displaying that fighting spirit, and me in the other corner being yelled at by Sensei “I don’t want him beaten, I want him out of commission. Sweep the leg.” Well, I did sweep the leg with my ever so cunning “lose-lose” strategy I’ve become very keen at: either do _____(usually what I want him to do) or you do ____(usually something I know he won’t want to do like take a nap), it’s his choice. It’s genius really but has about another 6 months shelf life before he figures it out.

Anyway, I had just given him the choice of either going to school or going back to sleep when he looks me dead in the eye and boldly states that, “It’s not fair.” Huh? That threw me for a curve. I was always expecting to hear it and was ready to shift into autopilot with the stock answer, “life isn’t fair,” but I wasn’t expecting to hear it so soon. How can a three year old understand that life isn’t fair? I mean really, what’s his view of the fairness of life thus far? A toy he couldn’t get at Target or having to eat his green beans when he so clearly is allergic to them(as demonstrated by the anaphylactic-like symptoms displayed at the sight of green foods)….honestly, what is his experience with the injustices of life that would make the “life isn’t fair” argument stick? Quickly I raced through possible alternative rebuttals that he would understand, when I find myself blurting out, “Yeah, well…life isn’t fair and I’d say you’ve got it pretty darn good compared to some kids in other parts of the world suffering from famine, disease and guerilla warfare.” Blank stare, blank stare, blank stare AND….blank stare. Okay, so appealing to his social conscience didn’t have the effect I’d have liked so I went with old faithful: “Sit down and put your shoes on or I’m going to smack that smart-alec butt of yours…which one?” No matter how sophisticated the reasoning or arguing skills, there’s nothing like a good ole’ fashioned ass-kicking threat to get a kid to do what you want.


  1. Z

    so let me get this straight… you beat your kid?

  2. N'after dinner mint n'action

    The commenter above clearly never met your angel… hahaha! Blog on, sister in spanking!!! Blog on!

  3. Elizabeth

    Whoa, Em! How shocking that he said the “that’s not fair” phrase…and it actually made sense. I think he was processing your argument about the vast inequalities and adversities compared to his plight of choosing which shoes to put on in order to attend a choice school at his young age (yes, those were his exact thoughts). Thus, his “blank stare, blank stare, blank stare…” were the seconds ticking in his little brain processing the devastation in Russia, the war-torn Iraq, aids in Africa, earthquakes in China, and flooding in Iowa… Wow, that kid is smart. Not too smart for a good smack on the tooshy, though. 😉

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