For the most part, I’m a rule follower. ( I mean, there’s that whole “you can’t take candy into the movie theater thing.) So is my husband. Therefore we’ve always expected our girls to do the same. If someone says something is to be a certain way, then that’s the way it will be. Ever heard the saying, “you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit?” Nothing is fair in our house. Just ask them when one gets asked to do a chore, while the other is out of the house, or busy doing something else. It’s just NOT FAIR! It gets done anyway.
Because guess what? LIFE IS NOT FAIR.
But send your kids out into the world these days, and it seems, everything is fair.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m struggling with this whole classroom party thing. I’m certain it’s because I’ve been down this road before with my older girls–and the journey is so much different now for my 8-year-old. I’ve seen the other extreme, if you will. And I’m not saying that’s the way it should be done either, but this latest trend is about to send me over the edge.
When my older two girls (now 14 and 17) were in grade school, the sky was the limit when it came to classroom parties. I dressed up in costume every year to help host my daughter’s Halloween parties. Notice I didn’t say “fall party!” The snacks were over the top too. If someone didn’t want it, they didn’t eat it. If they couldn’t eat it, we didn’t give them one. Even crazier, the classroom next door had entirely different snacks and played games that their creative mamas came up with. It was fun to see and hear about what my girls’ friends did at their parties. I don’t recall anyone complaining about it being unfair that Tommy or Susie got to play a game that was more fun. I recall kids who, because of their religious beliefs, did not participate in the party. Most of the time their parents took them home for the afternoon. They were fine. The other kids were fine. The next day, everyone met back up for some good old fashioned learning, and life went on. I don’t recall my girls getting behind in their studies because a classroom party happened.
It’s different now.
Yesterday, I spent the better part of my afternoon trying to track down erasers that could be sent home with my youngest daughter’s classmates. I was doing my part to help, and agreed to find 24 items that were alike, so you know, everyone got the same thing.
Because that’s important. I didn’t find any.
Instead I got those cool plastic maze games—in coordinated patterns, but not exactly the same. I personally think they’re way cooler than erasers. But I digress. The longer I looked, the more frustrated I got, because who cares? Why can’t they all get something different and just be happy that they got something in the first place? Why did I need to have heart palpitations over the fact that I might crush a little kiddo’s Valentine dreams, because they got a pink eraser, instead of a red one? I’m exaggerating obviously… but truly? I wanted to do my part to make this party a great experience for my daughter, but I doubt it will hold much clout in the whole “grade school memory bank.” It will come and go, with no particular impact.
Because now—LIFE IS ALL ABOUT BEING FAIR.
There will be a party in her class today. It will last about 20 minutes. She will play games similar to the kids in the other classes, and they will all be served the same cookie and juice. She will pass out Valentines with no candy attached.
NO OUTSIDE FOOD ALLOWED!
There will be no “Pinteresty” looking homemade boxes. (Not that I’m complaining too much about this one.) Those were made in class, so everyone will have a similar looking “sack” to gather their valentines. That’s fine. I guess. But there will be a day when that all changes.
Because ACTUALLY—LIFE ISN’T FAIR.
I realize, my comparing a classroom holiday party to the trials my girls will one day face in life, is not quite FAIR. But let’s be honest–it has to start somewhere. I tell my girls all the time that when they’re big kids in this great big world, they won’t always get the same promotion that someone else gets, or have any of the same successes their peers will have. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, sometimes the “same” is easier. Sometimes, it works. But it also needs to be OK, to be different. To accept what did or didn’t happen.
Like me, needing to accept my daughter’s Valentine party the way it will be—-whether I like it or not!