Who Broke the Pencil? Does it Really Matter at this Point?

“If you want to change someone else, the change always starts with yourself.” Dr Marvin Marshall

I was attempting to help two children resolve a conflict the other day.  The issue: One had asked to use a mechanical pencil and refused to give it back.  Some words were exchanged and the pencil was begrudgingly returned and broken at the same time by smashing the lead tip down forcibly.

Both 3rd graders were emotional and excited wanting to share their story.  Impossible to listen to both at the same time, they were sent to sit at the desks and cool off.  Next, I gave them a paper with the instruction to write their story down.  Each wrote a different version.

I suggested to the loaner that if the item was valuable, irreplaceable, or held sentimental value that maybe the item ought not be loaned out in the first place.  The pencil upon examination was broken and not repairable.

At first when I started to talk to the borrower, she was very emotional and hateful towards her friend. Denying that the pencil was broken, insisting that the loaner was lying and the pencil just needed lead.  I just told her that none of that mattered now what was done was done and now she had to make things between herself and her friend right again.

I suggested to the borrower that the item that was borrowed was broken in their care and the right thing to do because “she” was a good person in her heart was to apologize and “make amends”, especially because this was her friend.  Even at my age I make mistakes, break things, say things I don’t mean, do things without thinking that might hurt others (inadvertently) and must apologize because it’s the correct thing to do to make others know that you care about them, especially a friend.  She didn’t want to.  I told her that she didn’t have to but that it was the best thing to do to restore her friendship. Friends have disagreements all the time, it’s what makes them closer.

She was so angry and hateful.  I really think it had to do with the fact that she was fearful that she would be in trouble with her parent and wanted to avoid that at all costs.  Well she did think about what I said and apologized to her friend that same day.  By the end of the day they were friends again.

The borrower hated the loaner so much and thought that she was the one who needed to change, her story, her behavior, but in the end the borrower realized that it was herself that needed to stop being hateful and realize that she had wronged her friend.

Look at yourself next time you have a conflict and ask is it that other person that needs to change or is it me that needs to change?

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