I knew full well what was coming. I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. I could see it in her eyes. My precious 8-year-old daughter was about to unleash on me. I was waiting, albeit impatiently, for the words I longed to hear. I even started a mental countdown, just for poops and giggles.

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . 

“It’s just not fair!’ she screamed so loud the whole world could hear.

Finally, kid! What the heck took you so long!

Reluctantly, I had to agree with her on this one. It wasn’t fair. The poor child wanted to make slime using my laundry detergent. Oh, and she also wanted to create her own squishies using all of my sponges. Or something like that. Either way, the answer was a firm no.

I would have loved to indulge her, but it was going to result in a scene far too messy for me to clean up.

And that’s just not fair.

Not fair to me, of course.

See what I did there!

All joking aside, I remember many of my own “it’s not fair” moments. By the time I had reached the tender age of nine, my life had clearly been a series of disappointments including:

Watching all the other kids at the beach run gleefully toward the ocean while my mom continued to slather SPF 720 all over my body. Why did they get so lucky with their bronze skin? Why did I have to be the pasty one, with a million freckles and the ability to burn within 30 seconds of daylight exposure?

Then there was that time in fourth grade when I was eliminated from the spelling bee. That was pretty sucky, too. Didn’t they realize I was the winner of the third grade spelling bee? I not only could spell, but I was clearly the best. In my eight-year-old head, I was convinced it was a serious mistake. If not a total conspiracy.

When I got home that day, I remember sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow. I was so hysterical I could barely breathe. It just wasn’t fair.

Having my own history of childhood misfortunes has helped me better understand what my children and other youngsters are going through.

In their little world, things are supposed to work out. Sunshine and rainbows should be a constant occurrence.

And yet they are not.

Kids feel things very deeply.

When life shows its true, and often harsh, colors who is to blame?

Many of us instill in our children, at a very early age, to do what is right.

Work hard.

Do the honorable thing.

Be kind to others.

Make good choices.

Our children are taught that if they obey others and play by the rules, success is sure to follow.

They will get that trophy.

But, what happens when they don’t?

As a mom, I am learning each day. No parent wants to see her child sad and disappointed.

However, the reality is that you just can’t get what you want all the time and they need to know this.

It’s no easy pill to swallow and such is life.

This summer, my children lost both grandfathers within a month of each other.

It wasn’t fair. Not at all.

Understandably, I struggled on how to handle the situation. In this case, it wasn’t just about a skinned knee. Two men they knew and loved were gone.


I was honest. I told them that sometimes in life bad things do happen and that it wasn’t fair. I was honest when I also told them that I didn’t know why. I was also honest when I told them that whatever happens, we will make it through together.

On the flip side, life will also bring us some wonderful and happy moments. In fact, if we blink, we may miss them. Birthdays, weddings and parties are some good examples.

In life there are sometimes tears to be shed.

However, laughter is certainly a given, and not to be taken for granted.

They are still struggling with this, as am I.

Yesterday, my six-year-old attempted to make a pact with me. He told me if he behaves he will get the toy he’s been asking for. I was hesitant.

The system he concocted seemed simple enough. It was a name game, of sorts. For each good behavior, each kid gets a letter. I start with the first letter of their name until I get to the last one. Once their name is spelled out, the kid gets a prize.

Sounds fine, right?

Well, not according to my son, who said I would have to spell out not only his first name but last name too before he got a prize. I was confused.

“Mommy, there are less letters in my name than sissy’s.”

“Ok, so . . . ?” I asked waiting for him to make the point.

“It’s not fair.” he answered.

He was totally right. He got it. I was one proud mom.

Now, if only I can get these kids to actually behave . . . 

Kathleen Sullivan

I am a freelance writer and full-time mom. My work has appeared on: The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamalode xoJane, Parentco., Mommyish and Your Tango. I can also be found blogging at: http://www.threekidsonehusbandandabottleofwine.com/