Today something amazing has happened.
My 12 year-old-daughter, Lori, had an accident on her bike this morning. She had been cycling along, quite normally, then noticed something odd about her bicycle. At some point, the bike ‘gave up’ and off she fell.
She had been cycling next to her sister, and luckily had not taken the roadside of the path. So her fall ended in her landing in a nice soft field, and not in front of a speeding car, on a busy main road.
Although I will be eternally grateful that my daughter did not find herself under the wheels of a car, and that her head although bumped, was safely protected by a helmet, that’s not what I want to talk about here today.
Instead I want to talk about what happened later on.
After a call from my other daughter, I dressed and left to check Lori over and then took her to school, leaving my husband to scrutinise what exactly had happened on the only one-year-old bike.
On my return, I was shocked to learn that someone had actually sabotaged my daughters bike and caused her accident.
There can be no other explanation, my husband revealed. None at all. Someone’s turned a screw, on purpose, and damaged the gears.
Turned a screw…
Now, there’s one particular person in this house who has a thing for screws. Unscrewing screws to be precise. Unscrewing doors. Toilet seats. Desks. Actually, unscrewing anything that contains a screw.
But I try not to heap blame out and so I approached the girls on their return from school and quizzed them to see if there could be any possible way that one of them, perhaps on trying to mend something on the bike, could have possibly turned a screw and set the whole bike off kilter. No, they exclaimed wide-eyed and stunned.
I still kept my cool and thought of other possible explanations, but inevitably at dinner time, all sitting together, I had to ask my son.
Calmly I put the question to him, and he lied, of course.
I’m used to the lie before the truth. And there can be no punishment for the lie. I have learned that. The lie is a knee-jerk, impulsive, protective reaction and the truth must be sought.
The truth must be asked for in a calm voice, and my son must be convinced that my motive for the truth is a means to an end and will result in no punishment, just a calm description of why the act that took place, should not happen again.
Everyone at the table remained calm.
There was no shouting.
No hitting of heads on the table.
Just an admittance of guilt. That and an excuse. Then an apology with an outstretched hand and a promise not to mess with bicycle screws again.
And even more amazing. A twelve-year-old girl, who calmly took that outstretched hand, and just answered, quietly, that he should not do it again. Apology accepted. Despite the fall. The shock. The bump to the head. No tears. No screaming. No shouting. No, “I hate you!”
No, “Why can’t I just have a normal brother?”
And I finally thought, just maybe, we’re starting to ‘get’ him.