Can he say he's sorry?

Two children were arguing at school today, and I was trying to mediate. Finally, when we had gotten accounts of both sides (and one child was clearly in the wrong), that child offered an apology. The wronged child accepted the apology. I thought we were in the clear, when the child who had apologized threw a wrench in all of it.

"I said I'm sorry. Can he say he's sorry?"

I patiently asked what the other boy had to apologize for.

"Well...nothing. But I said I'm sorry. Can he say he's sorry?"

As much as this extended the awkwardness of the moment, I understood what this little boy was asking for. He had made himself vulnerable, had admitted he was wrong, and now he just wanted the same back (even though he technically didn't deserve it). It reminded me of so many adult disagreements, where we keep on asking the other person to try and take some responsibility for the situation.

The conversation then ended with each party still a bit upset. One boy was upset because he had apologized and had gotten another in return. The other boy was upset because he was being pressured to apologize for something he hadn't done. Longest moment ever.