I was sitting in my formal livingroom today with my husband, my mother and all four kids when I noticed that there was a streak of pen on the front of the leather couch.
"Wait a sec." I said. "Who wrote on the couch?"
The couch is left over from when I was single and it's the nicest piece of furniture in my house.
A chorus of 4 "Not me"s went around the room with an "I'm INNOCENT!" thrown in for good measure.
So we asked each child in turn and they all denied it.
"Fine." I said to all of them. "Go to your rooms."
The truth was that there were too main suspects - the usual suspects - my youngest son, who could use some more self control - and my youngest daughter, who sometimes leans a little too hard on being the baby.
As they all started toward the stairs, my oldest son, said, "I did it."
I was shocked. So was my husband. We looked at him. "You did it?"
I had him go into the kitchen and get a sponge. It was a dry erase marker so it washed right off. I said to him, "That's a VERY expensive couch. We don't have a lot of nice things. Please don't ruin the ones we have." He nodded.
A few minutes later he crawled into my husband's lap. My husband said something to him along the same lines - about respecting our home - and my son whispered to him, "I didn't do it."
"You didn't do it?" I asked.
He shook his head.
My husband shook his hand to tell him that he was proud of him for taking the blame so that they weren't all punished for what one person did.
I turned to the other three, "He did a nice thing for you by taking the blame, but you weren't very nice to him by LETTING him take the blame."
My 5 year old daughter, got up, walked over to me and said, "I'm not innocent."
Then she turned to her brother and said, "I'm sorry."
He said, "That's okay."
And then they hugged.