It was very windy here last Friday. So windy that when I opened my car door, it blew out of my hand and smacked into the door of the car beside us. It was dark, but I could tell by feeling that the dent was small. Nevertheless, it was there.
Dh and the kids waited while I wrote a note to the owners of the car apologizing and providing our contact information. I was just finishing up when the owners came back to their car. I apologized in person and handed over the note.
The husband responded that he was just surprised that we'd taken responsibility -- nobody else would have, he said. His wife seemed upset. I was embarrassed and mumbled something about my kids learning from everything I do, and we headed into the store.
Today dh received a phone call. There had been about two hundred dollars' damage, but it was purely cosmetic. No effect on the functioning of the door, no risk of rusting. They decided not to ask us to pay, and not to have the work done, because they were impressed that we'd taken responsibility and they wanted to help along the message we were teaching our kids about doing the right thing. Now my kids are learning a lesson about magnanimity, which is even cooler.