Happy birthday, trouble

            But, Emily, why don’t you write about Benjamin? 

            I do, of course.  But not as much as I write about Zachary.  And it’s not just because Zach is older.  Zach is so much like me he makes my identity ache.  Sometimes, only writing allows me to process the feelings.

            Benjamin, however, certainly came fully equipped with a personality.  And, as he inches up on two years old, he is asserting it.

            Unlike his older brother, he seems to have little interest in pleasing adults.  He far prefers to disobey.  He runs away.  If I take him by the hand, he goes limp.  He stands on tables and jumps from ledges and laughs the whole time.

            “We need to find an effective punishment,” J says.  Thank you, oh wise husband.  But, what, exactly would that be?  In my current very pregnant state, it is hard to lift his giant body for very long, so I can’t just pick him up and make him go.  And, if I do, he thinks it is hysterical.  He also finds yelling, sternness, and the word “no” to be very, very funny.  We set up a pack ‘n’ play as a time-out space, which at least contains him during moments of destruction, but you know damned well he thinks it is just amusing as hell to be put in there.

            “Unless we start hitting him, I am not sure what we could do to convince him,” I respond.  “The only things that upset him are when his brother hurts him or we take away his giraffe.  Neither of those seems like a particularly good deterrent.” 

            It doesn’t help that he is a fantastic eater, which means he just keeps getting bigger.  He has the body of a three-year-old.  And the verbal ability of a three-year-old.  What he doesn’t have is the cognitive or emotional ability of a child a year older.  The nice thing about this is that when he does what kids his age do – pushing, rough play – he actually hurts the other kids.  And the mothers look at me, wondering why in the world my three-year-old is acting like a two-year-old.  Um, because he is two…

            He starts preschool in the fall, and we have been going through a “separation program.”  At school, he behaves just fine, as does his brother.  While the elder child needs the structure of a school day to feel in control, the younger one needs that structure to be controlled. 

            And when he has spent all morning in school, he’s too damned tired to run away from me.

            He runs me in circles; he gets out of bed at night to unplug all the electronics in his room, as well as to disassemble the night light; he climbs to the top bunk and somehow removes the guard rail before he realizes he does not know how to come down; he pushes and climbs on other children.  He is also gentle with babies and animals.  He is in love with a friend’s baby sister, standing by her side when she is in the stroller, amusing her in the bouncy chair, and trying to put her little sock on when it comes off.  No, kiddo, you don’t have that level of fine-motor skills just yet.  He pets every animal we see.  He runs up to children at the playground and hugs them, and if they are strong enough, they don’t even fall down with the force of his affection.  He sits in the back seat of the car, greeting all those we pass: “Hi, big truck…  Hello, man…  Hi, fire engine.”

            He is a tornado, but he is a tornado filled with nothing but love.  And a little bit of mischief.  


On another note, can anyone recommend a brand of soft baby doll that has realistic, long hair?  My friend’s son has become obsessed with her hair, and she’d like to substitute a doll before she goes bald.

13 responses to “Happy birthday, trouble

  1. I always thought parents and doctors who talked about children who liked to please were pulling my leg. I didn’t get one of those. And I cracked up at “Thank you, oh wise husband.” Mine is full of gems, too. Sometimes it’s OK, and other times it feels to me as though he thinks that our kids annoy him because I did (am doing) something wrong bringing them up, rather than considering the possibility that he’s the one lacking in 1) knowledge of developmental behavior, 2) patience.

  2. We have a friend who sounds so much like Benjamin. He might love you to death, but he means no harm …

  3. I’ve seen lots of boys like this in various playgrounds and classrooms and have no bright suggestions. It’s hard to have an effective aura of command when you’re heavily pregnant, busy and tired. But you’ll figure it out. One day you will suddenly see the one thing that he does NOT want to be deprived of, and you will have exactly the bargaining chip you need. Hang on in there, everything changes.

  4. Ben is Alex in a year (your Ben, not mine) and it’s like looking into a crystal ball to read about him.

  5. Oh, and Happy Birthday!

  6. Unplugging all the electronics? That made me laugh–I’m sorry, though. My daughter could totally take him on, so let me know if you need her.

    To be so very pregnant and chasing after him must really wear you out. Hang in there, and enjoy his sweetness.

  7. When you find a “punishment” that works, please let me know. I haven’t figured one out for 2 year olds, either.

    I also have a child I seldom write about… my Sylvia, and I’ve been trying to figure out why lately. More to come.

  8. happy birthday to him – Little Bear is also a three year old sized two – though it seems a little more laid back, though I am exhausted and it seems to take a lot of running around to get him tired.
    oh, your boy likes taking care of babies. That’s the best.

  9. Happy Birthday, little guy!! It always amazes me how you describe my kids (when you describe yours)! They are so similar to yours in every way .. .

  10. “We need to find an effective punishment”

    G has said the same thing and I think my response was very similar to yours but maybe with an expletive or two.

  11. I wonder so much if any of this is birth order. I don’t know how often I discuss the difference between my first and second children and find the same things you state about yours. My second is a peanut. When she was 3, she looked like a 2 year old. But what she did not have in size she had in attitude, confidence, daring and noise level. Yet, still full of love. My oldest is more introspective and shy. She is sensitive and works so hard to please others. My youngest aims to please herself. If others are pleased as well, that is fine, but it was not her goal. Self gratification.

    These little ones are amazing aren’t they?

  12. My third is a pip. A lovable, solid, strong-willed, ginger-haired pip. I used to think I needed to meet you so I could get C & S together with Zachary. It now seems clear that Ben and F would give each other a whole lot of love while running around, jumping off the furniture, busting out of clothes their big brothers wore quite recently…

  13. I really liked reading your post!. Quallity content.
    thanks for sharing