I already know that!
Why? Why? Why? Why?
I Don’t Want To!
All things that come out of Hannah’s mouth throughout the day (along with the sweet, kind, brilliant, funny things OF COURSE!). To be expected from a 4 year old. Usually these words are accompanied with a stomp of the foot, two arms crossed in front of her chest, two eyes peering scarily out from under her hair and a pout that could win her an Oscar. They come out when she’s beyond frustrated, angry, tired or just wants to see how many heads she can get to turn in her direction when out in public. These are also words that I Wish I Could Say. Do you know how much better I’d feel if I could scream I Don’t Want To! at the cashier at Bloomingdales when she sticks out her hand for my credit card? How I’m sure the pain would go away quicker if I could yell OOOOWWWWWIEEEE! after banging my shin into the foot of my bed for the 11th time in the day? Or when the woman at the grocery store looks at screaming Luke in the cart and innocently says, “oh, he looks tired”, how satisfying it would be to scream, “I already know that!”.
Yes, kids get away with yelling whatever they want. And we parents don’t. But the one that gets me most? The one that at the age of 37 is not acceptable but oh how I wish it was? “It’s. Not. Fair.”
It’s Not Fair. It’s relatively new in Hannah’s vernacular. And she now whips it out of her holster regularly. As soon as I think my words have resonated with her to get her to understand why she can’t do/have/say something. “It’s not fair” comes out, usually with a typhoon of tears. And it usually renders me stumped. Because usually, I can understand why to her little, young brain, it really isn’t fair. This saying seems to enter the preschooler/mommy dialogue at the same time as many rules, limits, and changes come about. Earlier, things just “were”. Hannah accepted them as how the world works. She believed “mommy says so”, and even if it upset her… she moved on. She doesn’t move on quite so easily anymore. She needs to understand why it is that her little brother can carry his blankie around and I limit the time she can spend with her raggedy old elephant. It’s. Not. Fair. She berates me with questions as to why it is that she has a bedtime and can’t stay up All Night or at least until Mommy goes to bed. It’s. Not. Fair. It doesn’t make sense to her that her friend at school (whose mom and dad work full time) can have playdates at dinner time and she can’t. It’s. Not. Fair.
The more observant Hannah gets as to people’s (mostly my) behavior, the more disappointed she seems to get. She’s noticing what people wear (no coat on a frigid day?), what people eat (a candy bar before lunch?), what people say (stupid or shut up) and how people act (sassy/bratty/spoiled) and if it’s not on par with what she expects for herself… It’s. Not. Fair. She’s struggling to understand where the line is drawn between what I allow her to do and have and what I don’t. And I’m realizing that this is when my Consistency is so incredibly important. And it’s the consistency I have such a hard time with as a mom. Some days I break my own rules and let her do things she knows aren’t normally allowed (dinner on the couch! A chocolate after lunch! A junkie toy from the grocery store 25cent vending machine!) because it makes me happy to see her excited. But the next time, when it’s not allowed (again)… it’s. not. fair. And she’s right. It’s not.
What is fair? Is “fair” having what other people have? Is “fair” having what you once had? Is “fair” having what you think you deserve? For me, at this stage of my life, “It’s not fair” is not something that would ever come out of my mouth. It sounds so juvenile. But do I feel it? Yes, at times I do. But I think as you get older unfairness becomes self-pity which can turn to resentment. And I would hate to admit that I have either of those very often. So I won’t. But I guess, a little of each of these can creep in on some darker days and I MAY think I deserve “different”. My kids are too young to understand, “mommy had a really long day and would love to sit for one minute, undisturbed, in a quiet room, with no one pestering me or begging me for anything.” So I don’t say it to them, and when they continue to yell for me, yell at each other, yell for things beyond my reach… I MAY think, “how do I DESERVE this?” It’s instead of yelling, “THIS is not fair.”. And when Tim gets to take a nice, quiet, long shower and I am unable to because my kids want to be with me at all hours of the day… do I resent it? Yes, maybe a little and I don’t even have to say anything, because when Tim sees the look on my face, he knows I’m thinking, “It’s not fair.”
I’m learning that the less explanation I give to Hannah, the better, when it comes to why things are fair. With most conversations I believe Hannah can grasp “reason”. But when she has it in her head that something isn’t fair… there’s no changing her mind. How can I explain why her friend can get her ears pierced and she can’t? Especially when she sees that I have mine pierced? How can a 4 year old comprehend that something makes her look “too old”? That it’s just something I feel strongly about. And. That’s. It. I know most of the time she’s yearning for an explanation that makes sense to her (if I could tell her that 4 year olds’ ears would fall off if they’re pierced, that would work), but aside from lying to her… there aren’t words to make it fair.
I hate the saying, “it is what it is”. It’s such a cop out to me. It’s a conversation ender. It comes across as defensive in adult conversations. But it’s what I tell myself many times when I’m feeling resentful or self-pitying. It might actually escape my lips the next time Hannah tells me “it’s not fair” if I’m feeling impatient. Or, maybe I’ll just scream back, “I Already Know That!”. That would be fair.