At times I feel like I've fallen into one of those movies in which you see one event from several different perspectives as you try to piece together the true course of events. Such it was this morning.
It had been a fairly unusual morning in which no one had asked me to find his backpack or her glasses or any one's shoes. About ten minutes before we needed to head out to the bus,I went looking for my strangely quiet children. I found all four of them involved in what looked like a silent rugby scrum. When I cleared my throat, they all jumped back with a chorus of "He/She started it!" So we retired to the Repentance Bench. (Note to Self: If all four children are going to the Repentance Bench together, we need a bigger bench) Sitting on the couch, facing the defendants, I started from my right and went down the bench.
Mom: "Austin, what did you do?"
Austin: "I was beating on Nicole because she-"
Mom: "I didn't ask what Nicole did, I asked what you did."
Austin: "Oh, I was beating up Nicole."
Mom: "Alex, what did you do?"
Alex (with his big cheeky grin): "I stole Cole's caterpillar."
Austin: "It was her favorite graham cracker."
Mom: "Austin, it's not your turn. Erika, what did you do?"
Erika: "I tried to pull Austin off of Nicole."
Mom: "Nicole, what did you do?"
Nicole (with a long suffering sigh and roll of the eyes): "Nothing."
Austin: "She did do something, she-"
Mom: "Austin, thanks, but it is Nicole's turn. Nicole, what did you do?"
Nicole (with another sigh): "I cried."
Austin (who still hasn't quite got the hang of the Repentance bench): "You didn't just cry, you-"
Mom: "AUSTIN! Nicole, you cried and that made Austin beat you up?"
Nicole: "Well, no. I cried and then told Alex he could never have another graham cracker until he was a grown up."
Austin: "And that's why I was beating her up. She can't talk to my brother like that."
Mom: "So, Alex stole Nicole's caterpillar graham cracker. Nicole cried and told Alex that he could never have another graham cracker. That made Austin angry so he started beating on Nicole. And Erika was trying to get Austin to stop. Right?"
Erika (who catches onto things much faster than anyone else) hops down and says, "Sorry, Austin."
Alex (who has more experience with the Repentance Bench than anyone else) hops down and says, "I torry, Cole."
Nicole (with a very grudging tone of voice) says, "Sorry, Alex." and permits him to hug her.
Austin says, "Sorry, Nicole!"
Now everyone's happy and we all somehow managed to make it to the bus on time.