Monday, June 23, 2008

Equity, Part I

Living in a home with three little fellows who are incredibly concerned with justice and injustice, we tend to have loads of discussions about 'fairness.' When I first started in the classroom, I remember someone teaching me the saying, "Equity does not mean everyone getting the exact same thing. Equity means everyone getting what he/she needs." I like this idea a lot and I suspect I repeated that adage once or twice in my own teaching. Growing up, however, I don't remember my own mom being quite so philosophical when we complained. I think her response to our whines of "it's not fair" probably tended to the "well, life's not fair" variety.

When our first fellows came along, P and I were hyper-aware of being fair, especially given that they were twins. We made sure we had an equal number of gifts at Christmas and birthdays, well before they could count and compare. I always tried to switch up who went first in all things, even referring to them in speech or writing, S and C, C and S, intentionally interchanging whom I listed initially. We never wanted to dress them the same, but I always wanted to make sure their outfits were of equal 'cuteness.' I hate the question about who is older, resisting answering by simply saying, "Well, I had a C-section so they pulled one out a minute before the other," not wanting to give some implied 'superiority' to an older twin who was the one who happened to be lifted out first. Heck, as identical twins (or monozygotic, as I've taught the boys to say) who came from the same fertilized egg that somehow magically split, it isn't even like only one is the result of the winning sperm in the race.

I remember shopping while carrying around one of our monogramed LLBean bags with one of the twins' names and being questioned in the store by another momma of twins. She wanted to know if our other guy's name was on the other side of the bag since she always made sure all personalized items listed both names. I quickly explained, feeling just a bit defensive, that they were gifts and we had two such bags, one for each boy, but I always made sure to take turns carrying the bags so both got equal use. Still when I grab one from their perch in the front hall, that exchange always crosses my mind.

As the boys have grown older and with the addition of a third fella, the issue of equity and fairness has become more complex to negotiate. Lately, P and I have tried to stick with the earlier philosophy of equity meaning everyone getting what he needs. Our guys have varied when they've needed more attention, more cuddles, more emotional support, and we've tried to give the individualized attention and extra support as needed, even going out on one-on-one daddy or mommy dates. But it's hard to figure out the scheduling for individual time AND even more difficult to determine just what is fair and how much we can or should manipulate the world around us to satisfy their desire for equity and fairness in all things.

More on this subject tomorrow.....

1 comment:

Jen said...

Just do your best. I have four - I try very hard to give equal time/love/stuff and there is always, ALWAYS the child who shrieks that it's not fair.

Fairness is totally overrated anyway.