I’ve recently discovered a trend in our house. It’s a useful tool for determining what really happened when one of the kids gets hurt when we’re not around. Whenever they come running to tell on each other, there’s one thing that I look for. My daughter’s guilt is directly proportional to the number of times that she uses “accidentally” in a sentence.

Let’s say that her younger brother was jumping on the bed and fell off, hitting his head on the floor. She would probably come report something like, “Daddy, brother fell off his bed.” Did you notice the complete lack of the word “accidentally” in there? That means that she’s telling the truth and probably innocent.

Now, let’s change the scenario up a little bit. Let’s say that they were both jumping on the bed and she mistakenly bumps into her brother, thereby knocking him off. She will probably say something like, “Daddy, brother was jumping on his bed and he accidentally fell of.” Ok, only one “accidentally” in there. She’s probably not completely innocent, but most likely, it actually was an accident of some sort. No big deal.

Now, let’s go a little bit more extreme. Let’s say that they were both playing on the bed when her brother did something to upset her. She turns around and pushes him off the bed which causes him to faceplant. As he runs screaming into the living room to be comforted, she’ll probably tell us something like, “Daddy, we were accidentally playing on the bed when he accidentally kicked me, so I accidentally bumped into him accidentally, and he accidentally fell of the bed and accidentally hit his head on the floor…accidentally, it was an accident.” GUILTY!

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