Childhood Family

Life isn’t fair.

If there is one things kids love, it’s canned speeches that they hear over and over and over again.

They particularly love these when they are in response to the laments of how woeful their lives are.

I base this very scientific fact on my study in which 100 percent of respondents (sample size: two) reacted the same way when, upon announcing something is not fair, I said, “You’re right. The world is not fair. And it’s not fair in your favor, so you should be thankful for that.”

Just a hunch you can guess their reaction after hearing that for the 43,000th time.

Yes, my wife and I have a stable of go-to responses for our kids when they trot out their laments about the terrible world they live in, the one that comes with food, shelter, clothing and a little electronic box that can not only access the entire knowledge of the world but also allows them to share their sorrows with others simply by swiping and pushing on a glass screen. Poor kids.

Granted, the “it’s not fair” line has been uttered by generations, and will no doubt continue. My hope is that one day my future grandchildren tell their parents that it’s not fair that their flying car is a used model, or that it’s not fair that they have to fly coach on their space ship trips.

Of course, it’s not just the timeless “it’s not fair” that is met with predictable responses from us. Among the others:

THEM: There’s nothing to eat.

US: Then you’re not that hungry.


THEM: It’s not that late. I don’t need to go to sleep.

US: I don’t care what you do in your room. I just don’t want to see you again until morning.


THEM: I can’t find a phone charger.

US: Stay strong.


THEM: I don’t have anything to wear.

US: (This one just gets met by a blank stare, a personal favorite of mine.)


THEM: I’m bored.

US: You know what’s fun? Cleaning your room.


THEM: Where can I put the fish skull I found?

US: Just somewhere outside. It kinda smells. (This one may be unique to our house.)


But the point is, kids have and will always complain about the woes in their world, despite the fact that all of the children before them and all of the ones after them will have the same complaints. And of all of the complaints that kids utter up, the “it’s not fair” one is probably the most universally uttered one. I am not an anthropologist, but just a hunch that millennia ago, there was some kid who complained that it was not fair that he got the tusk-end of the mammoth for dinner.

Side note: my brother-in-law did give me another arrow for the quill regarding the “fair” comment. The kids were lamenting something not being fair recently (probably something as horrific as not getting to have a second, third or ninth S’More), and he informed them, “Fair is where hogs gets weighed.” Southern colloquialisms for the win.

When they get older, I am certain my kids will realize that the unfairness of the world was definitely tilted in their favor, just as I have. I wouldn’t trade my childhood with anyone, because it was that unfair for me in a good way.

When they become parents, I am sure they will realize the same thing my wife and I have — fairness is all about perspective.

In a few years, they will be experiencing the same thing we have. And their kids will probably tell them that life isn’t fair, just as they climb into their used flying car.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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