My boys will tear each other to shreds over the simplest things. Lest you think I jest, I overheard one boy blasting another today because the one picked up a scrap of wood the other had just discarded.
So it really wasn't surprising to find Boy #3 in tears after he broke his brother's bike. He'd borrowed it to ride around the block and summoned me to our front door, almsot hysterical. In his hand, he held the bolt that had been serving as the bike's left pedal.
To be fair, Boy #2's bike has been in fair-to-poor condition for some time now. After the left pedal on his bike fell off, his Dad and Grandpa attempted to fix it, without much success. The bolt was clearly a stop-gap measure, but it was working. Without the bolt, the bike was pretty much useless and Boy #3 knew that. He also knew that the bike is pretty much #2's favorite plaything right now -- and that #2 has a volatile temper.
Boy #3 begged me for help. Fix the bike, he pleaded. I can't give it back like this! He'll kill me! I sent him searching for the lost nut; no luck. We attempted to secure the bolt with another nut scrounged from the garage. No luck there, either. #3, I said, you're going to have to tell him.
Can't you do it, he pleaded, tears in his eyes. I told him no. He borrowed the bike; he would have to deal with the consequences. Even if we'd "fixed" the bike, I told him, we'd be obliged to tell #2 what happened.
#3 reluctantly approached his brother. He led his confused brother to the bike and pointed to the broken piece through his tears. And to my surprise, #2 simply patted him on the head and said, You thought I'd be upset about that? It was going to break sooner or later anyway. If it wasn't you, it would have been me. He wrapped his arm around his little brother and the two of them walked off as I stood there, my heart swelling with joy.