Since break,my children have been at each other. I never know what fights to get in the middle of, but I would have to say that 50% are not that serious. Where problems arise, it's usually because they start punching or "accidentally" causing physical pain for one another. If I hear a fight happening, the smartest thing I can do is slip my sandals off and enter the room and quietly watch until the ones in the argument notice that I am there. If I see the fight, they usually take their punishments (be sent to their rooms, do a chore for me, etc.) The problems happen the worst with Princess Cloud who demands that her brother's punishments are not "fair," then she demands that I tell them things. It reminds me of my former mother-in-law. "If he just realized. . ." "Well, you need to tell her. . ." Then a timeout is called, and they frequently don't respond well to it.
I have in the past (like umm, two days ago!) gotten to the point that I swore at them, then a saw a quote in a friend's signature by Einstein stating that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (According to this definition, they were indeed driving me insane.) I explained to the kids how things would work in the future-- mere mention of a push or a shove got both to do a ten minute chore because I didn't know who actually did it. If I saw it, the pusher would get an fifteen minutes of sitting in the car with Dad or I at ball practice or church and I started writing notes to myself to remember!
They are still finding ways to argue, but at the same time, with each new consequence that I have to come up with, they are getting pretty consistent. The babies are more difficult, but they admire their brothers and sister so they want the punishment! Starshine sat with Basil the other day at ball practice just beaming as she'd gotten into the snack cupboard (I got alock for it-- too much temptation and I should've done it YEARS ago.) Basil was embarrassed but also laughing as his littlest sister beamed at him while she sat in alleged disgrace! My husband kept telling her to look contrite so she would (after she learned what she was supposed to do) put her lips together and look down and do ten seconds of frownie face before she giggled!
The other day they were fighting severely. I picked up some pizza fixings and had complete mayhem as we made pizzas. The only catch was, I had a few bake for their nemesis and chief tormentor! They were not creating for each other-- Princess Cloud created a pizza for Guy who created one for Starshine (who is either sweet or causes everyone heck at the same time) and Dmitri created for Calmity Jane, who created for Mr. Mud, etc. At first the ones who were still fuming at their sworn enemies started to create boring pizzas, but the ones who they were least enamored with were happily creating for younger sibs. They all thought that they were just paired and that their person they were creating for was creating for them. The stingy ones saw smiles and started having fun. Peaches came in (she works and is 17-- she kind of fights with Princess Cloud but not as much and she wasn't in the fight.) Well, she wanted to make one for my husband and I so she made Calizones which she called "wedgies" because they looked like wedges. The ones inclined to causing problems are more familiar with another variety of wedgie. They decided to passive-aggressively give the ones they were upset with what Tiger had made. (They'd later brag, "I gave X a wedgie and my mom didn't even care. She said I could do it again!")
They all actually made some good pizzas. I have had a few days of peace-- to a certain degree, of reminding them when they fight, "Be good as you don't know who will be baking your pizza or making you a taco!"
The only thing-- when serving children, you cannot do it on pans directly from the oven. Dmitri kept standing up and I was in an elaborate dance of moving back as his head kept popping up to see whose pizza was being served next. Next time I hope I remember to transfer the food to a room temperature plate!
They soak up so much creativity-- and once you figure out how to prevent a problem, they come up with a new way to cause it but say, "You didn't tell me I couldn't do that." My brother and I were five years apart and we hardly fought. (My sisters are in their late 40's, early 50's and I had little interaction with them.) My dad used principles with my brother and I-- be nice,respect each other's property, but these guys have less space and they share a lot more.
For years I have just whined to my main man, "It was never this way with my brother and me!"Now-- I have finally realized that it couldn't have been this way for him and me. We didn't share rooms, we each had rooms that were like my husband's and my master bedroom in a huge house, we played different sports-- it was just completely different! Of course my husband has been at times limited in his help-- always supportive, but not always helpful. Sometimes he has said the silliest things, "You need to get control!" He is very wise in many things, but this was not one. I had to realize on my own how different things are from what I knew and longed for-- not less kids, but for familiarity. I've spent ten years like Private Benjamin until she accepted where she was, then started doing well. Of course Mr. Einstein (dh) has recently observed, "You seem like you have come out of denial and you are working with the situation instead of how you wish it was!" (He adds that he's very proud of me!) Don't get me wrong-- he makes this possible, but his comments seemed more from a spectator than a fellow athlete in his observations of my parenting!