"How do you handle it when siblings fight?"
Not one to give short shrift to such a complex topic, I thoughtfully held an imaginary gun to my head and pulled the trigger.
I regret it now. (And not just because it may have slightly undermined my I-have-no-idea-why-he-keeps-playing-violent-games-at-school-it-must-be-because-he's-fallen-in-with-a-bad-crowd-because-we-certainly-don't-condone-that-behavior-at-home image.) If I'd had more time to think about it, I would have answered more sincerely. Something like:
Naturally, I jest. Anyone who's spent more than 10 minutes with me and my children knows I would never drink wine out of a box.
The truth is, as much as they love and enjoy each other, my kids also fight. They fight a lot. My responses run the gamut, depending on my energy level and how many times that day I've already said, "What would have been a better way to handle that?"
The "Let them work it out" approach seems logical. Unfortunately, it's also loud, and it generally takes a long time because they're not very good at it. At best, it buys me a few more minutes in the bathtub or on the phone before I have to jump in and deal with it anyway.
As a younger sibling, I also believe Sprout is at a disadvantage in this scenario. Yes, he needs to learn to stand up for himself, but there are limits when he's dealing with someone who's got a full three years of cognitive development on him.
On the other hand, Sprout has a gift for doing things that are both just under my radar and guaranteed to push Sweetpea over the edge. There aren't many advantages to having a sibling with SPD, but this is definitely one of them. Humming persistently at a certain frequency can be enough to set her off on a bad day, and the resulting bruise is apparently a small price to pay for an ice pack and some one-on-one time while his sister does a time out.
For a smart kid, Sweetpea does not always do herself any favors. Just this morning she defended herself by claiming "I did not kick him ..." (which would have made it his word against hers if she'd stopped there, instead of finishing the thought) "... where he says I did." (Sigh. Time out.)
I could have answered Sprout's teacher with a single word. Because the most effective strategy I've found for stopping the never-ending arguments over such critical issues as who is reading whose cereal box and who is or is not copying whom? School.
With my first summer as a full-time stay-at-home-mom fast approaching, I'm going to need some new tools in the tired, beat-up toolbox. So I ask you, since you're clearly not late for something important if you're reading this: How do you handle it?