Life Lessons: “It’s Not Fair”

Life Lessons: “It’s Not Fair”

My daughter came home late from her weekly dinner with her grandmother. At nine, she hasn’t succumb to pre-adolescence moodiness and was amicably sharing the details of her day as she pulled out her homework assignments for her grandmother to check.  (On Thursday nights, Grandma checks the homework as this is considered “Mom’s night off.”)  She told us that during class today, her teacher asked the students a question and then called on one child (not Lulu) to answer it.  When the child responded to the inquiry correctly, Lulu’s teacher gave her a “class dollar.”

(Class dollars are rewards for doing something well or for going out of your way to help a fellow classmate.  The students save up these “dollars” and can buy things like having lunch with their teacher or “buying” a homework pass for specified amounts of “class dollars.”  I guess you could call it positive reinforcement/free trade?)

Lulu later approached the teacher later and commented that had the teacher called on her (Lulu), she would have given the same answer.  Lulu told her teacher that she didn’t think “it was fair” that the other student received the dollar when she also knew the answer.  The teacher’s response? “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey.”

Err..what did she say?  I asked Lulu to repeat it so I could get the words right: “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey.”  Pretty rude and abrupt if you ask me.  And now I am facing a dilemma starting with how the teacher’s response impacts my daughter?  All school year, Adam and I have tried to teach Lulu some basic concepts about common courtesy based on the following:

THINK!

THINK!

What does it say about Lulu’s teacher, and adults in general, when an adult and someone our daughter looks up to does the complete opposite of what we have been so diligently teaching her? (The above sign is prominently posted on our back door as a constant reminder to ALL of us to do and say the right things.)   I wonder how the teacher would have felt if Lulu had said “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it, Honey” to her?  Probably pretty annoyed.  It seems unfair to expect a 9-year-old to respond to an adult’s censuring comments with a mere shrug of the shoulders and a smile.  What was the teacher expecting would be the outcome from her harsh words to my daughter: Lulu would learn a valuable life lesson?  Or maybe my daughter should simply repeat her teacher’s words when confronted by a friend about the unfairness of a situation.  After all, she’ll reason, the teacher said those words to her, right?

I know that everyone is entitled to a bad day or two.  And maybe Lulu whined when she complained about the lack of fairness but I guess I hold teachers to a higher standard than I hold others.  What Lulu’s teacher said to her was hurtful and mean.  Calling her “Honey” almost makes it worse than if she hadn’t used that word.  In our house, if someone, adults and children included, says something hurtful to another member of the family, he or she is expected to apologize.  I can explain to Lulu that what the teacher said was wrong but I am not sure how to rationalize to my daughter why her teacher may not apologize for being a “git.”

So, what do you think?  Should I overlook this interaction and help Lulu to focus on what’s important: learning about minerals and parallel circuits?  Or do I send the teacher a note requesting that we speak so I can discuss what I feel is an unacceptable interaction with my child? I’m not sure that there is a right answer.  I guess I’ll have to file it away in the growing folder entitled “Things I Wish Hadn’t Happened to My Child but Should Be Considered Life Lessons.”

 

International Women’s Day: 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know

International Women’s Day: 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know

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Today is International Women’s Day.  At first I felt uneasy about a specific day dedicated to my gender.  Will men also have their day?  Or is everyday really their day? Anyway, I thought that I could use “International Women’s Day” as a great reason to dedicate a post to 10 life lessons that might guide my daughter’s growth this year and beyond:

1. You is kind… You is smart… You is important. (The Help)

You must remember these three things everyday.  Your father and I believe in you and you must always believe that you possess these three characteristics.

2. Learn, learn, learn from everyone and everything that you encounter. 

It’s called “an education.”  Yes, academics are important and the key to much success but so is exploring the world and asking a lot of questions about the things that you don’t understand and about which you want to know.

3. Mistakes are part of learning. Make lots of them but try not to let those mistakes be at the expense of someone else. Oh, and be sure to learn from them too.

4. Enjoy being by yourself.  It’s not a crime and it can be fun. 

Going out for dinner alone can be a spiritual journey and not necessarily an exercise in loneliness. I love traveling by myself—I get to see all of the places that I want to visit and I’m not sidelined by the interests of others.

5. “Nullum Gratuitum Prandium” that’s Latin for “There is not such thing as a free lunch.”

Yes, for some people it appears that things come very easy.  Don’t be fooled; nothing is free and, as my 10th grade Biology teacher explained to me, for everything there is a price.  So, if you really want something in life, you have to really work for it.  If it is easy to get, you probably won’t value it as much as the things that you worked really hard to obtain.   That said, don’t let anyone or anything stop you from getting what you want out of your life.

6. Listen to you MOTHERS!

A lot of women came before you.  Respect and pay attention to the lives and the stories of the women who came before you.  Their sacrifices, work and actions helped to mold what your life has and will become.  You can learn from their triumphs as much as you can from their mistakes.  Just don’t forget from whom and where you come.  Pay homage to those women, they have earned your respect

7. You have so many wonderful talents and gifts, remember to share them with the world. 

Part of being a contributing member of society is sharing what you have with others. Even if you think that you have little or nothing to share, your mere presence in the life of another person can be present enough.

8. Sticks and stones will break your bones and names certainly do hurt.

As technology improves and communication travels at the speed of light, it is getting easier and easier for the power of the pen to yield great power.  So be mindful of what you say, write and put out in the world particularly about others. Your actions can have sweeping implications and their outcomes may not be what you had anticipated.

9. No matter what anyone says to you, there is NOTHING wrong with being a girl. 

I am proud of being a woman and having you as my child.  Lots of people want to tear you down and blame your gender as a reason to deny you great opportunities.  Don’t take “NO” for an answer. You are strong, smart and brave.  Gender has nothing to do with these qualities.  Don’t let it be your or anyone else’s excuse for limiting your access to success.

10. Call your mother even when you think that you are too old/too mature/too embarrassed:  You may not always want to follow my advice or to listen to what I have to say, but I will always be on your side and support you—even if I don’t agree with your decisions.

And with that, happy International Women’s Day!

This post was inspired by Karen Walrond‘s essay entitled “The 10 things I want my daughter to know on international women’s day.” 

 

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Three generations of women celebrating International Women’s Day!