Of all the things that I think are important to teach kids — never assume anything, always drop change into a Salvation Army kettle, never leave the house without first doing a booger check — the big lesson is this: Life isn’t fair.
Or, in the words of amazeballs writer William Goldman, who penned my favorite movie “The Princess Bride”: “Life isn’t fair — it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”*
We started laying the groundwork for this very early with our children, even before they watched “The Princess Bride” for the first time. Still, it never stopped them from protesting “No fair!” when one kid got a bigger scoop of ice cream or another nabbed the shotgun seat for the 50th time in a row or one got a bad grade despite days of studying. It also didn’t improve their moods any when I refused to undo whatever injustice just occurred, telling them, “No, it’s not fair, but that’s how it is.”
Over the years, I’ve witnessed a butt-load of unfairness. It wasn’t fair that I asked ahead of time for an epidural and then realized too late it was improperly placed and so I endured an unintentional, natural childbirth. It’s not fair that a kid who yodels in Walmart becomes a meme. It’s not fair that the Kardashians, who serve no useful purpose, are everywhere making millions of dollars. It’s not fair that I’ve exercised every stinking day for two months and have had only four, fun-size pieces of Halloween candy in the entire past week and yet I still can’t button my skinny jeans.
And those are just the little things.
There is much bigger stuff in life that is even more unfair. Cancer, mental illness, whatever godawful tragedy People.com has just posted.**
Why do I bring this up today? I dunno. Seems like an important thing to remember on a huge election day when so much seems at a crossroads. Life isn’t fair, the good guys don’t win, justice doesn’t always prevail. But, you still keep going, still keep trying, still keep hoping, still keep fighting the good fight. And, just like Journey says, don’t stop believin’ — that you will one day (soon) button those damn jeans.
*That may well be, punctuation-wise, the clunkiest sentence I have ever written.
**I am going to have to get over my love of celebrity gossip because I can’t handle reading another tragic story about newlyweds dying as they left their wedding ceremony or a kid who got paralyzed after swallowing a slug on a dare.