Many thanks for the questions that you all left me. If you didn't have time, or forgot, and you still want to ask, please do so. I'm going to answer them here over the next few days.
The beautiful Pam L asked:
Do any of your kids just get on each other's nerves? I don't mean now and then--do you have some that just bother each other-all.the.time.? I mean like personality CLASH. I also have six kids and I am at a loss as to how to "make" them like each other. Actually, they are old enough now that I can't make them do everything that I want! We talk all the time about loving each other, you will appreciate each other one day...but kids have their own personalities/quirks/issues, etc. and sometimes they just aren't very nice. Do you ever deal with that, too? Sometimes I think we must just be doing something wrong. :( But then I don't know how to change it.
Oh, hahahahaaaaaaa. I am pretty sure that the last California earthquake was caused by my laughter.
With six kids, there's always going to be one set or another that doesn't get along. One kid who will annoy the snot out of the others on any given day, one kid who is just, well, annoying, for lack of a better word.
There is one particular pairing of kids who act as if it is their mission in life to remove the other from the face of the earth. They act as if the North and South Vietnam conflict was an inspiration in action. They shared a room and it was WWF all the time, so we split the room down the middle with painters tape and gave them each a half.
It didn't work.
We made a front downstairs room into a bedroom and split them up, mostly to save their lives and also to save my sanity. I am really hoping that, in the future, they will end up super close, but I have my doubts.
It's really interesting to me, the various pairings and how they do or don't get along. To preserve the privacy, I'll use monikers, but it goes something like this:
Z doesn't really like most of the siblings except for Y, and only really likes Y now that both are older. Z and Y used to be close as toddlers and school kids, but as they've grown up, it's morphed. Z can't stand L or T, is ok with J and is striving to make inroads with F after many years of intolerance.
On the other hand, Y really has a favorite in F. Y can't stand L or T, is jealous of J and tolerates Z.
And then there's T, who likes all of the siblings but has a really strong personality and that makes T pretty tough to be around sometimes, although that personality means that this kid is really going to go far when the personality is harnessed, refined, and let loose in the correct direction.
Confused yet? :)
I have a rule. You have to be nice. You don't have to like everyone, but you have to respect them - and part of respecting that person means that you try to get to know what makes them tick. More than many, I know that you won't always like your siblings, and your siblings won't always like you. Just because you share parents doesn't make you people you'd chose to hang with on a daily basis. I respect that everyone has feelings. But my feelings, as their mom, crown all of theirs in this circumstance. You will be nice to your siblings out of respect for me as your mom and respect for your dad.
The way that they act towards each other is actually my weakest point as a mom - at least I think it is. I really, really hate it that they don't all get along, that they often don't like each other, and that they take each other so for granted. Listening to people cut each other down is a physical pain, a stab to the heart.
I often feel like I'm doing it ALLLLL wrong. I have good kids - they are polite and friendly and respectful in public, get good grades, stay out of trouble - but they are downright mean and ugly to each other sometimes. And the thing about siblings is that they know exactly where the weak points are, the soft areas, the sensitive sections - and they lay in wait and jab at those spots with a sharpened stick at just the perfect moment.
I make them do things together. Encourage the older ones to take the younger ones places, to go get a cup of chocolate milk or go get a hamburger - and try to remind them to be patient with the younger ones. I remind the younger ones to ask the olders for help, for guidance, and invite them to their activites. It works about, oh, .1% of the time.
So, take heart, Pam - you aren't the only one. And I see glimpses of nice attitudes, of helpful spirits towards siblings, of kindess and gentleness occasionally. It's just often enough that I think, maybe, it's going to work out in the end.
You defintely aren't the only one.