Growing up everything was literally an “even Steven” sort of situation. The oldest of three children, the middle grandchild on my mother’s side, both my maternal grandmother and my mother were obsessed with making everything equal. If you want to know about equality these two ladies have the market cornered for equality amongst children. Everything was fair and square, from each penny spent on back to school clothes to lunches and even Christmas presents.
I resented everything being even Steven, fair and square growing up. My older cousin would get a beautiful dress and I would get the same….in the most hideous color possible. Because that is what was left. Because we had to have the same dress, the same style dress but not the same color. Even Steven. That was my grandmother’s reasoning. Back to school was a nightmare as a teen. Try shopping for shoes and clothes for under $50 when your younger siblings could bank on Osh Kosh as the affordable alternative. Scoff, pfft, harrumph. Imagine my delight when I had my own kids. “G” was an only child for many years so “even” did not come into any factor and was such a thrilling feeling for me. Selfishly, I enjoyed the lack of taxation to be spread among more than one child.
Until I had the twins. Imagine my dilemma with two children. At the same time. Everything suddenly became equality, even Steven, fair and square. Feedings at the same time. Sleeping at the same time. Diapers at the same time. How do I maintain equality and same with two different people? Three different people?
You see what I found about having Sethenstein and Little Bitty was that I could not make everything fair and square with them and “G.” My time was not equally distributed due to the demands of having twin infants. Their needs being met was not equal based on what each of them needed as individuals, I could not meet one’s needs the same as the other. How selfish and unfair to them to meet one’s needs and not the other on the same individualistic idea. The only thing that was equal, was my undying, unyielding, unabashed amount of love for them.
Now that the kids are getting older I am hearing more about “not fair” and “she got more than me,” “he got that and I didn’t,” and “why does So-and-So get that and I don’t!” I did find myself being a cliche of my mother and using her words of “Well when your sister get’s a bra you can get one too.” The Chad face palmed himself when I said this, I am explaining to my children why everything is not always equal for each other. What is equal for them is my love and ensuring their needs are met.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
Having twins, boy-girl twins might I add, taught me that even though they shared the same womb space, shared the same crib, had/have the same birthday, had the same feedings, naps, diaper changes, they were inherently two separate and equally different people. I learned to not lump them together, which is a task when you have twins. Biologically and naturally we just lump them together because that is what we did as a survival mechanism during the first year or so. As they began to develop their own sense of individuality I learned to embrace their separate identities, their separate needs. Twins taught me that everything cannot be even Steven, fair and square. Having three kids taught me to never compare one to the other, especially the twins.
Explaining to my three that not everything is fair and not everything is equal is a tough task. My middle son, one of the twins, he is all about everything being fair. I would like to chalk up his drive for fairness as a result of an undiagnosed case of OCD, but I believe his drive is more fear based. He is not the baby, nor a girl like Little Bitty, he is not the oldest and he is the second boy, my only educated guess on his unnatural obsession with order and equality is his fear of being left out. His fear saddens me and one I work to meet for him everyday, I digress. So explaining fairness and equality in an unequal home has been a challenge, but one that I feel is proper for my children, one I did not learn until I was well into adulthood.
When I share with my kids how each of them is made different, with different needs, made equally in the eyes of God with different blessings, sharing these details made more sense to them. They grasped this level of understanding more clearly. Albeit making lunches can be a chore when I did not cut up an equal amount of cucumbers for everyone’s lunch box and I am gently reminded by the Sethenstein of my egregious error in giving G seven and everyone else six. Fodder for future therapy I am sure. Again not everything is equal, I fail sometimes too, even with cucumbers.
Explaining the harsh bitterness of the world and how many experiences are unfair may seem unnecessary for children, however I feel that providing my children with the loving understanding to embrace differences has taught them at a very young age where the true importance of equality lies. As 12 and seven years old, respectively, they know and value human existence and validation. What is fair and square, even Steven is the way people are respected, loved and treated, no matter their gender, race, religious affiliation, or sexual preference. They have embraced that we are all blessed differently because when we come together we can equally make a difference, even if on the smallest of scales.
I hope that when my children are adults they thank me for treating them equally different. I hope they see that I didn’t always give them the same things in their lunch based on one loving apples, one loving grapes and the other would rather have cucumbers than fruit. I did not always give them what they wanted, but I always gave them what they needed which was love, respect, validation, understanding and the freedom to be who they wanted to be as people. I hope they see that I gave them the freedom to be who they wanted in themselves. I hope they see that I met them right where they needed me in their lives and that I did not make them conform to what their sibling was doing, or someone elses child, or society or compared them in any way. My hope is they know that the guidelines are the same for all of them, raising them with the same household rules, but their needs as individuals are different. I cannot meet them the same as the other, how selfish and unfair to not meet their needs individually, but attempt to blanket. My love for them is the the only thing that is and always will be, even Steven, fair and square.