“You’re even.”

“Mom! Jen took my teddy bear!”
“Yeah, but you took hers the other day. So you’re even.”

Something I heard growing up. Didn’t seem like a big deal.
It taught me that I should treat people the way I wanted to be treated. It taught me karma. Well, I was a pretty gullible child.

And then, I saw the other side.
I try to communicate with my spouse,
“When you said this, it hurt my feelings.”
“You hurt my feelings the other day too! We’re even.”

This “even.” It is “even” in an eye-for-an-eye way, but we all know that a lost eye ain’t coming back, and being “even” only leaves a bunch of one-eyed or blind people.

What is this “even”?

And who decided that’s our end game? 

As adults, we have to remember. Every time we tell bickering children that they are even, we teach them “even” is ok. As long as my sister hit me first, I can hit them. As long as she said a nasty thing first, I can say the most hurtful thing to no consequences.

Every time we say “even,” a kid learns it.

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