"Firstborn hit me," reported Secondborn. He didn't look especially injured, but he doesn't make this sort of thing up. On the other hand, he isn't always as precise as he could be...
So, "How did he hit you?" I asked.
"Like this." He pantomimed hitting his hand with the base of his other hand.
"Where did he hit you?"
"On the hand."
Figuring that that was all the detail I was likely to get, I went to seek out Firstborn. This was on Sunday, and we were at my father's house. (It was Father's Day, but we probably would have been there anyway.) We'd just gotten everyone out of the pool and back into their clothes, but we hadn't quite gotten dinner ready. Apparently something had gone wrong in the interim.
I found firstborn in the workshop, sitting in his grandmother's electric wheelchair and sobbing uncontrollably. I really should have put it together then, but I didn't. I was just annoyed that the child was obviously too upset by whatever had happened with his brother to explain, well, anything. "Firstborn, why did you hit your brother?" I asked.
He just kept sobbing.
"All right," I said, feeling resigned. "When you're done with this, come and explain why you hit your brother."
Fortunately, my father came in just behind me, and settled down beside him, and got him calmed down enough to admit that he was -- more or less out of nowhere -- mourning the fact that his grandmother was dead.
At that point, I had a pretty good idea what had happened, but I wanted to be sure. "So why did you hit your brother?" I asked again.
"I saw the wheelchair, and I was sad, and he just wouldn't stop talking," said Firstborn.
"...And you were too sad to make the words, so you hit his hand to make him go away?" I asked, unwillingly sympathetic.
"...I can see that," I told him. "But you still owe your brother an apology later."
And Firstborn nodded again, and his grandfather wound up sitting with him for the next half an hour or so -- somewhere in there they moved to the couch, though -- and I don't know what all they said, but I think it was good for both of them.