I’ve learned from watching my kids, when you’re one of six siblings, justice or fairness becomes extremely important to you. As a mom…it’s exhausting. Who has the bigger piece of dessert? Who got to play with the favorite toy longer? Who gets to eat out of the blue bowl? Why did I keep that stupid blue bowl anyway, the only one different from the rest? I could never remember who ate out of it last.
A couple of my children were especially fixated on things being just. Hue, my oldest son, has always had a strong sense of fairness and would sometimes take justice into his own hands when he felt like I didn’t acted quickly enough. On one such occasion we had just finished lunch and it was time for what we called ‘Nap-time.’ This was a two-hour period of time where the kids would go to their rooms and nap, read, or play quietly. We needed a break from one another, at least that’s what I told myself. The girls read and read. The older boys played with LEGO’s, lots of them. The younger two were probably actually napping but even as the children outgrew the need to take naps, I didn’t. I was committed to nap-time until they turned eighteen. They each shared a room with their closest sibling. Hue shared the room with his younger brother Abe. I took a phone called as the kids headed to their rooms. It wasn’t long before Hue interrupted my call, complaining, “Mom, Abe’s not going to the room.” Like any good mother, I told him to take care of himself and I would deal with it in a moment. Apparently, his fairness barometer rose to an intolerable level and he deemed it his responsibility to right this great injustice. The next thing see, while on the phone in the kitchen, is Hue dragging his brother down the hall by his ankle. Abe thrashed about and made a sufficient amount of noise. I promptly ended my phone call and vetoed Hues conviction and chosen punishment for his brother. This was only one of many situations where my kids felt the need to enforce justice. The problem is, while justice is important, we all make mistakes. We all need some mercy. Justice without mercy is equally as unbalanced as mercy without justice. I'm thankful they are no longer dragging each other down the hall.