What’s Fair?

I think one of my son’s  pre-school classmates is disseminating misinformation about how to properly use the term “fair”. It would seem this child’s dangerous manifesto might read,


Should you be the least bit unhappy or disappointed with a situation, might I suggest saying, ‘Hey, that’s not fair.’ This concise and powerful phrase will render your parents powerless, and free your shackled happiness, allowing you to have everything your heart desires and win any contest you enter.

One of the most unfair things I can do is score a goal against my kid in soccer. I try hard to let him win, but sometimes  he’s busy gazing at a bird and the ball just rolls slowly through his legs. He says, “Hey, that’s not fair!” and when I say, “Hmm, so it’s only fair if you score a goal on me?” he becomes defensive and confused, like a Creationist who’s been confronted with data.

He also considers it unfair if I find him too quickly in a game of hide and seek. Well kid, when you’re hiding on top of the dining room table and we accidentally make eye contact, it’s kind of hard for either of us to pretend like I don’t know where you are. What wouldn’t be fair is if I let you think that hopping on a table and placing a small leaf on your back is acceptable camouflage.

I’m not the kind of dad who’s going to show him how to trap and skin a raccoon,  but I do feel a  duty to teach him the proper way to hide from the authorities. I mean, what if he’s wrongly accused of a crime and when the police knock on his door,  he simply stands behind a fern? That’s all on me, and those cops will laugh and say, “What have we here? Looks like someone had an overly supportive hide and seek partner as a kid. Cuff him.”

Life isn’t fair. That’s how I want to answer him, but he’s too young to accept that the universe is in a constant state of entropy and unexplainably ridiculous things happen all the time. For instance,  the show “Reba” was on the air for six seasons, and as much as I want to say, “That’s not fair,” my emails to the head of programming at The WB keep getting bounced back.

I guess it’s time for me to teach him the correct phrase for expressing these types of frustration: This is bullshit.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here http://bit.ly/1exfm34. Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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