It’s not often I crack out something as sweet and delicious as gummy worms.
But, guys. Potty training.
And not just any-old potty training. No. Potty training a 3 year old boy who’d much rather hang out in a soggy pee diaper than stop playing Legos to sit on the boring old potty.
Potty training a 3 year old boy who doesn’t care about cool underwear. Or peeing like a super hero. Or watching movies on the throne.
A 3 year old cares about gummy worms.
When he sits on the pot, he gets a worm. When he pees, he gets a pair of them. And poop? Hallelujah! That deserves a whole handful.
But does that mean I want the entire family feasting on gummy worms every half-hour?
But my 5 year old disagrees. “But he gets so many gummy worms. It’s not fair, why do I only get one?”
Er, uh…let me fumble around for a moment. I could give the old “life’s not fair” comeback. But am I really not being fair?
I had to sit down and put my brain to work for a good solid half hour before I could answer that question.
And as I sat (not on the potty), I realized a few things.
Fair isn’t equal.
Being fair doesn’t mean giving my kids the same amount of everything
Fairness doesn’t result in the same treats, the same discipline, or even the same rules.
My 1 year old isn’t allowed to jump off the tall rock the big kids play on. My 5 year old loses sandbox privileges for the day when she flings sand, but the 1 year old gets a few warnings.
The 3 year old gets extra gummy worms to motivate him to use the potty. Everyone else gets one as a treat for the day.
Fair is making sure everyone gets what they need. What they deserve.
For moms, being fair is extra important. We make a lot of decisions for our kids. We have the final say on what they do and don’t get. With that power comes a whole heap of responsibility.
We’re responsible for teaching our kids the true meaning of fairness. We’re responsible for giving our kids everything they need. And for making sure they have what they deserve.
With fairness, we can help them have everything they need to feel safe, happy, and loved.
Kids need love and attention.
Everyone needs to feel cherished and loved. We need to care for our kids and want what’s best for them. Pay attention to them, listen to their stories, and spend time with them.
Kids need to have their physical needs met.
Kids need a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. We need to take care of them when they’re hurt or sick. Make them meals when they’re hungry. Help them brush their teeth and comb their hair.
Kids deserve opportunities to learn and grow.
Kids deserve to be taught right from wrong, and they need help doing what’s right. They need to be disciplined. We need to guide them through life and help them grow. Teach them to care for others and themselves. Give them opportunities to learn, both in academics and in character.
Kids need forgiveness.
Every kid makes mistakes as a part of learning and growing. They need room to make mistakes and know we’ll forgive them and give them a second chance. And a third. And fourth…
Kids need healthy parents.
Kids need us. We need to take care our ourselves so we can take care of them. And we need to take care of our marriage to give them a healthy atmosphere to grow up in. Practice self care. Spend time with your spouse. Give your kids a peaceful environment and a happy home.
Kids deserve respect as an individual.
Our kids aren’t us. They’re not mini-me. They’re not their brother or their sister. Each child is an individual, with their own needs, their own opinions, and their own thoughts. We have to treat them like that.
Don’t make it your goal to give them exactly what their sister has, simply because they want to “be equal.” Look at them and strive to meet their needs, even if that looks different from how you treat their sibling. If they need extra snuggles, give them extra snuggles. If they need space, give them space.
Kids deserve innocence.
Our kids are innocent until that innocence is taken away. They shouldn’t be burdened with our money troubles, adult arguments, and relationship problems. Don’t take their innocence away. Give them space to be a kid. Not to be burdened by life’s troubles. Allow then to hold onto their innocence while they can.
Kids need kindness and patience.
Sometimes our kids get on our nerves. Kids are childish because they’re children. We need to let them be children. Calm yourself when you’re annoyed and talk to your kids with kindness and patience.
Kids need open conversations.
We’re our children’s teachers. We need to keep the conversation open. Let them talk to you. Answer their questions in age appropriate ways and let them ask more. Explain what you can and listen with all your heart. Keep calm and work through things together. Help them want to come to you (instead of Google) when they need to know something.
Kids need a good example.
The easiest way to learn is by following an example. If we give our kids a bad example, they’ll learn from it. We need to be a good example for our kids, because they’re always watching. Act how you want your kids to act. Practice what you want them to learn. Become who you want your kids to be.
Kids deserve apologies.
Kids need a lot from us, and we don’t always give it to them. We don’t always succeed. We fail and we fall short, and that’s ok- we’re only human. But when we do, we need to apologize. Give your kids a heartfelt plea for forgiveness and make a sincere effort to do better in the future.
Moms have a lot of responsibility to give our kids all these things they need and deserve. We evaluate what’s fair for our kids and figure out why and when we need to treat them differently.
Next time I dole out gummy worms and my 5 year old responds with, “It’s not fair,” I know exactly how to respond. I know why it really is fair that she gets one and her brother gets three.
He needs them. He needs the motivation to help him learn this crazy skill of peeing on the potty. She doesn’t need that, but she does deserve a treat every once in a while.
It’s not equal, but it’s fair. She may not like it, but it’s ok. Because I make sure to meet her needs, even when she gets things her brother doesn’t get. Even when I have to treat them differently.
Because that’s fair.