There are parenting truths nobody warns expectant parents about. Like, the countless times you will spend an hour trying to super-glue a junky toy from the Dollar Tree, because your child just cannot live without it, and they no longer sell that particular piece of trash.
Another painful reality is having to be a judge to the children's daily drama. Some of this can of course be eliminated by telling them figure it out themselves, or to get over it, or to not be a tattle-tale. But there are always those cases that make it necessary to invoke the special jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, i.e. Mom.
The children are swimming in the pool. Child A asks Child B to give them their goggles. Child B, who is notoriously careless, tosses the goggles to Child A, missing the pool by a long shot. The goggles hit the pool deck instead, and one of the plastic clips holding the headband for the goggles breaks, rendering the goggles useless.
Child A, who bought the expensive, name-brand goggles with their own money, demands that Child B replace them because they broke as a result of their carelessness. Child A had explicitly asked for the goggles to be given to them, not tossed.
Child B says they were only helping, and should not be held liable for accidents while doing so. Also, the goggles are from last year, so the pool chlorine has made the plastic more likely to break.
In other details, it should be mentioned that these particular goggles came in a $30 set that also contained fins and a snorkel. They may be available on their own, but I have only ever seen these particular "diving" goggles in a set. So if Child B were to replace the goggles, they would also be buying the rest of the set, which cost more than they had money for, especially since Child B has no use for the fins or snorkel they would be left with. Furthermore, the children in question bring this up while at the store where this particular set is sold, suddenly in an urgent need to buy/replace. A decision is expected of me on the spot - while I am miles from my library of legal reference books.
What is your verdict?
My approach is to buy the set out of my own money and hold onto it pending my verdict. This is done solely because of our climate - going to any store this time of year is pure torture, as the temperatures in the van upon returning to it are somewhere around 400 degrees. Going back to this store anytime in the foreseeable future (i.e. one week, which is an eternity to kids) is not an option. Plus, Child A goes swimming every day and wants his goggles back.
Then, I call Judge Jerry, aka my husband. He loves nothing more than to be consulted on such cases while he is at work. After hearing out the case, he tells me he has a headache now and has to go. Or something along those lines.
Child A and Child B feel bad about the agony they are putting the pregnant Supreme Court Justice through. Of their own, they devise a plan: They figure if the set is $30, the goggles are probably worth $8 (fins: $12, snorkel: $10). Child A offers to pay me the $22 for the new fins and snorkel. Child B agrees to pay the $8 for the goggles that will go to Child A. To make up for the fact that old goggles are being replaced with new, Child A is also giving Child B his old fins and snorkel from last year's set. Both children are now totally broke, but happy and at peace with each other.
For the sake of my sanity, I do not mention that there was an extra $3 unaccounted for thanks to sales tax, which I cover myself.
Child A (different from above) is playing with an electric building set, which they bought out of their own money, in the room they share with some siblings. At this point (so the story goes) I call them to come and eat. Child A leaves without first packing up the fragile toy, which is left on the floor. When I later question Child A why they did not first pick up their toy, I am told that I had called them urgently, and when Child A asked if they could just finish putting their toy away, I had told them "no". FAT CHANCE!!!
Later, so the story goes, Child B (different from above) is told to clean the joint room. This was supposedly done while Child A was still eating, so they again didn't have a chance to clean their own toy. Child B packs up the electric set and places the box on the shelf where it belongs.
When Child A goes to play with their set another day, they discover that some tiny plastic piece, that is apparently an integral part to the motor, which in turn is a vital part of the set, has broken off, making the whole set useless. Child A blames Child B for being careless in putting the set away. Child A demands that Child B replace the set (see above case why replacing one part with a whole set is not fair). Child B says they were being careful (believable, based on this child's personality), and had in fact noticed said piece being already broken when they came to clean the room.
What is your verdict?
Again, I call Judge Jerry. He patiently listens to my ranting, laughs, and then tells me that eventually, the kids were going to even up by accidentally breaking each other's stuff. True. But it doesn't stop the bickering.
My solution is to tell Child A "too bad". Even if Child B did break the piece in question (something there was no evidence of), it was Child A's fault for leaving his toy out to begin with. The story about being called away in such hurry, and denied a chance to clean up the toy, is not believable.
I tell Child A that it is better to learn this lesson as a child on a toy, than as an adult to forget your baby in a parked vehicle and have them die. Besides, sometimes bad stuff just happens to you, and you may not always be able to bring the offender to justice.
To soften the blow, and in order to preempt sibling animosities, I offer to try and superglue the broken piece. Please see the very beginning of this post regarding that nightmare.
I'm thinking Judge Judy doesn't intentionally have short hair. I think that's as long as she can grow it because she is in a constant state of tearing her hair out over the ridiculous cases she has to mediate daily. I feel her pain!