“He’s really coming out of his shell,” one of the teachers told me during our parent conference. “We were thrilled to see him being naughty for once; he’s usually so good.” At this point, I probably needn’t tell you which child’s teachers I was talking to. No one accuses Benjamin of being too good. And he damned sure doesn’t have a shell of any kind.
In fact, Benjamin’s teachers get to see him being naughty on a very regular basis, a privilege for which they do not seem especially grateful. They adore his sense of humor, his verve, and his easy affection; it’s the pushing and hitting they could do without.
He mostly focuses his efforts on one little boy, a rather aggressive child who has been known to practice violence himself now and again. He does not hit Benjamin much, of course. He is far too busy trying to ingratiate himself to my son. If only he understood that crowding into whatever corner Benjamin is playing in and stealing his toys is not the way to become BFFs.
“No, Randy!” Benjamin will shout, but Randy just cannot help himself. So, Benjamin wallops him. And, although I appreciate that he has tired of using his words only to be ignored, I must say that my son’s shortcut of simply jumping straight to violence every time he encounters Randy is not winning him any gold stars. Nor is Randy always the sole recipient of Benjamin’s brute force. There are seven other two-year-olds in the class, after all, and just after Lilah was born, Ben took a taste of a few other classmates.
Lately, however, the teachers are noticing a change. Growth and maturation, to be precise. His playfulness and cuddles are punctuated less frequently by bops and bumps. He is checking his aggression in favor of cooperative play. And, every now and then, he actually obeys.
It goes without saying that he still does not allow anyone to sit in the spot he has decided belongs only to him at the lunch table. He is still two, after all.