And then they say, “What could you have done differently?”

We drove past a pretty bad car accident today. Kai asked, “Why are the police there? There were no police in our crash. Do they send you to the hospital or the jail?”

So we talked about what police might be doing there, what might happen, etc. Kai said, “So… if somebody had been drinking alcohol maybe the police would send them to jail?”

I said I wasn’t certain, but maybe. It would depend on the circumstances. “A lot of times, the police are there to find out what happened, in case it was needed in the future.”

“You mean, like if the person was arrested and had to go to jail? Maybe if they were using their phone or they had too much alcohol?”

“Well, partly, yes.”

I could see him puzzling this through. “Do they say ‘Why did you do this?’”

“I’m sure they do.”

“I bet they say, ‘Were you drinking too much? Were you looking at your phone? Were you looking in the back seat? Were you just not paying very good attention?’”

“Well, I’m not sure. That’d probably be a little leading.”

“Hmm. Well, I bet they do, Mommy.”

A few minutes later, we arrived home. As we were climbing out of the car, he said, “And then, after you tell them what you did wrong, I bet they ask you not to do it again. And then they say, ‘What could you have done differently?’ I’m sure they do, because it’s important to think about what you can do differently in the future. So you know. That’s how people learn. And if they don’t want to learn, THEN maybe the police send them to jail, until they can figure out how to be nice.”

If only it were that simple.

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