I’d reached the sagely age of five and was going to school! Which was neato. But what was even neato-er was that I would finally get to cross the street by myself! I still remember the delicious terror of crossing for the first time. I’d been warned that if I attempted to cross a street alone, cars—hundreds of them—would swoop down and kill me over and over again. And yet, here I was crossing the street, and not being killed even once. Then I had an epiphany:
Cars only kill you if you cross the street without permission!
That was when I realized there was a Law of Fairness that governs all of life. No one told me that. I just knew it. If we followed the rules, everything would turn out just as it should: If we ate our green beans, ice cream would show up on the dinner table. If we put our teeth under our pillow, money would appear! Heck, it would even be brought by a fair-y!
One thing I was nearly as proud of as crossing the street was my new artist’s smock! Mom had learned at Open House that we would be doing Art in kindergarten, and would need smocks. So she did what any mother of an Only-Child-Who-Happens-to-be-a-Genius would do. She bought the Simplicity pattern for an “Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock,” and spent two weeks stitching it to perfection. She finished it off with a gorgeous monogram just like the ones the penniless impressionists in Paris wore during the early 20th Century.
The first day of Kindergarten went excruciatingly slowly. I blew bubbles in my milk, tapped my toes during nap time. But Art finally arrived! And then Miss Shirley spoke the fateful words, “Alright, children. Go to the closet and grab the first smock you see.”
By the time I got there, my smock had been snatched by a little cretin named Davey, who probably wouldn’t know an artist’s smock from a dress shirt. Which was, in fact, what all of the other smocks in the closet were—kid’s dad’s dress shirts. Mine was the only Authentic Parisian Artist’s Smock. I went straight to Miss Shirley, and pointed out her hideous error in judgment.
Her response dripped with unfairness: “We all need to learn to share, Mitchell.”
Mom called the teacher and begged her to reconsider: “I made that smock just for him. It has his initials on it.”
“Monogram, Mother,” I corrected.
No exception was made. And I was irrevocably scarred, becoming at last the shattered shell of a man you see before you today.
OK, so I got over it.
Only a short time had passed since I’d discovered the Law of Fairness, and already I’d learned it could be broken! However…
I’ve since discovered a larger principal: If we focus not on being treated fairly, but on treating others fairly, we end up with something even better: