Sarah and Sam are playing on the tree swing in the back yard. In the midst of playing, Sam gets hurt. It was an accident, the result of kids doing stupid things that are perfectly acceptable for kids to do…until someone gets hurt. Sam is crying loudly and is holding his shirt up so that the whole world can see his injury which was grotesquely minimal. Sarah is offering Sam some backhanded comfort for the sake of her reputation with any possible onlookers, and Sam is blaming her for the mishap for roughly the same reason. Dad steps into the scene and listens to wildly differing accounts that amount to the same conclusion: it was an accident for which no one wants to accept any responsibility. Sam wants Sarah punished for injuring him. Sarah wants to be exonerated and is presenting her case in such a way that demonstrates that she is being victimized by Sam’s false accusations. Sam insists that Sarah did it on purpose and that she is lying. (Trust the writer that he is able to discern the truth in this matter. Sam’s autism sometimes causes him to level charges that are more a product of his emotion than the facts in evidence. We’re working on it.)
In the end, with just a little parental mediation, apologies are mandated for both parties. The make-up negotiations went like this:
Dad: Sarah, apologize to your brother for doing something with him that caused him to get hurt.
Sarah: I’m sorry you got hurt, Sam.
Dad: Sam, tell Sarah you’re sorry you said she was lying.
Sam (hugging Sarah, still crying): I’m sorry you lied, Sarah.
One teachable moment gone in a flash. One memory indelibly etched into the family fabric.