This all began last week while I was on an excursion with the junior and his class mates and they were learning how to be convicts. It was a lovely day, and they were the cleanest, politest convicts anyone ever saw, which made their teachers proud and happy. Perhaps they were impersonating 80 very short con-artists.
The week before, the class had gone on camp and had a rather exciting and very exhausting time, as I may have mentioned. During the excursion one young fellow sat beside me and said ' Are you Noodle's Mum?' (except he didn't say Noodle, because that would be silly). And I said 'yes I am' because I am, and it seemed like a pretty simple sort of question. The young feller told me a long tale about how they'd walked a long way at camp, and everyone was very tired. Very tired, he iterated. One of his friends had a sore ankle, he said. 'Oh dear', says I, 'that's not good.' 'No,' says the young feller.
A bit of silence for a while. We looked at the view.
'Noodle got to go back in the car,' he said. 'Oh,' I said. 'Because he was tired' he said. 'Yes,' I said.
'We were all Very Tired,' says the young feller, with the lowered brows of especial significance.
'Hmmm, ' thinks I.
'So why did Noodle get a lift, and no one else?' He comes to his point. 'It's not fair.'
And I see his point. They were all very tired, and it doesn't seem fair. I was a bit thrown, because I didn't want to say to him, 'it's because the Noodle's father and I have done such a good job of impressing on your teachers that the Noodle is fragile and easily damaged that they are rather scared they might accidentally kill him and so they take very good care of him indeed, ' or I could have said 'because it's considerably more unlikely that you or your friend with the sore ankle would end up needing to take days off school, or go to the doctor or end up in hospital because of your tiredness.' So I fluffed about a bit and murmured something like, 'yes it must seem unfair, but the Noodle gets Very, Very Tired.' Or some such words unhelpful to my interlocutor and my son alike.
But I did quite like this young fellow's journey on the road to deciding what was fair and unfair. He was undoubtedly a very decent fellow and was not trying to be rude but just really, really wanted to know why in this case something was fair for someone but not for someone else.
Somehow this made me think of shock jocks and ex-Prime Ministers and English people who supported fascism before the War* and that's when I had my dose of outrage yesterday. An eight year old boy is entitled to a fairly simplistic notion of fairness. It's part of growing up and besides, he was actively trying to extend his notion of what might be fair. Those Other People cannot say the same, and that is when I got angry.
I didn't say to the young lad, but sometimes the unfairness of what some people (including the Noodle sometimes) have to put up with makes me cry and other days it just makes me furious.
*a person may have been reading George Orwell essays which might be a contributory factor in the generation of outrage.