Now I am trying a different approach. The jury is still out on whether it is going to work, but keeping track of who got to go down the slide first when we were at the park three days ago is just not at the top of my list of things on which I want to spend my energy. When I hear Herbie protest the fairness of something, I ask him if he really wants his brother's life. Does he really want to be like his brother, without the ability to climb up on the monkey bars or jump high on the trampoline or to eat cake from a bakery? He gets that and the protest stops. But of course there is always another protest the next day. If I'm handing out tortilla chips and he thinks the Owl has one more than he does, I ask if he wants to always eat the same things as his brother, should I toss the goldfish crackers and never buy them again? I tell him that being "fair" does not necessarily mean making things exactly the same, but doing the right thing for each of my children. I wonder if I'm being a little unrealistic saying these things to a 6-year-old. And one who has had plenty of unfair things in his own life.
Meanwhile, the Owl has never once uttered the phrase "it's not fair." (I hope I am not jinxing myself here!) In fact, he is the one who goes shopping with me and wants to buy frozen pizza (that he can't eat) for his dad, freezer waffles (that he can't eat) for his brother, dark chocolate bars (that he can't eat) for me, and all kinds of treats for his family that he knows we enjoy. We get home and he announces the gifts that he has selected for everyone. (Never mind that it is my money that he is spending....) He is so excited to see the smile on his dad's face when he announces what he picked out for him. And if we are driving past an ice cream place, he'll quickly point it out to his brother and cheer because he knows how much his brother loves ice cream. He is truly happy when other people enjoy eating things that he will never get to have. I hope that his positive and generous attitude lasts forever!
I want both of my boys to appreciate all of the good things in their lives and to realize that the good outweighs the bad. Herbie gets to enjoy all kinds of fun activities and delicious foods, and when anyone talks to him about these things, he excitedly says that he is lucky. The Owl only eats from a very short list of food, but he jumps for joy when we prepare any of them. He gets home-made versions of lots of treats and is going to be an amazing cook when he grows up. I want them to remember their blessings and their loving friends and family when the worries of life get more complicated than oreos or turns at the playground.