Zoe met me in the courtyard after school yesterday, bursting with news.
“I’m reading green dots now Mum!!!”
She’d gone up a level in reading and was practically oozing pride and joy at the prospect.
Izzy was already close to tears when she told me she was still reading ‘orange dots’. “Miss B said I am almost ready but not quite” she whined and I was waiting for the inevitable words that would come next…
“It’s not fair mum!”
Part of me wanted to march into the classroom and tell Miss B to just put Izzy up to the next level so we could avoid all the tears and whining and disappointment that was about to be heaped upon us…. but that wouldn’t be doing anyone any favours.
“It’s not fair” rang in my ears several times that afternoon and evening. It’s a tune I know very, very well. I hear it a lot.
Life according to Zoe and Izzy must be fair, and to be fair it must be equal. What one gets or does, the other must get or do. I’m sure they learnt this from me in the early days when I was so paranoid about making sure one didn’t get more of me, or of anything, than the other did. It was part of the whole ‘twin angst thing’.
Stupidly I didn’t wise up to this mistake, this impossibility, until it was well and truly entrenched in the girls’ minds.
Now days I know better. I know that being fair is not always being equal, and we are working on the concept together.
Fair does not mean equal.
Being ‘fair’ means that everyone gets what they need when they need it.
Zoe and Izzy may be twins, they may be 98% genetically identical but they are not exactly the same. They don’t like the same things, they don’t learn the same, they don’t even look the same (to me and others who know them). Yes, they are very similar (very, very similar in some ways), but that doesn’t mean they will always do or get the same things at the same time.
We will celebrate Zoe’s reading success because she deserves to feel proud of herself. This is what she needs. This is ‘fair’.
Izzy will read ‘green dots’ when she is ready to read green dots, and not before. Because this is what she needs. This is ‘fair’.
We are still working on this bizarre concept and it has been a hard lesson to learn this week.