You might say we are having a few issues with Benjamin, if by “issues” you mean complete lack of interest in anything we have to say.
“I think he might have a hearing problem,” J says, but I find this unlikely. True, sometimes he appears not to hear me tell him it is time to brush his teeth, but more often he runs cackling in the other direction, slamming a door shut behind him. Yes, he completely disregards all instructions to clean up his toys, but since he can hear me whisper the word “cookie” from across the street and around the corner, I am guessing he has selective hearing loss.
He pulls night lights out of the wall, yanking off the cover and then grasping them by their naked bulbs. He sits on the potty, pees a little, then cuts off his stream, just so that he can pee all over his baby sister in the bath. He upturns bowls of peas on the floor just for the sheer pleasure of seeing them bounce all over the floor. He pushes, he pokes, and he seems intent upon eating his classmates.
The worst thing about it is that he is so fucking funny. “Yo, ho, ho,” he bellows. “I a pirate. I pokin’ Zachary.” We don’t even know where he learned that pirates say such things, and we are just hoping he does not learn about the bottle of rum. Zach has started referring to him as “my evil little brother.”
Benjamin makes us stifle laughs at the same time we start looking for the “free child offered” section on Craigslist. His obsession with Tinkerbell would be adorable if he didn’t use the little figurine’s wings to poke people. The long and involved stories he tells us at the dinner table would be endearing it they didn’t always include incidents like “I pushed Ryan off the ladder” and “Laura take it away because I throw it.” His insistence that Lilah is sweet would be heartwarming if he could wait thirty or so seconds before hitting her on the head.
He understands what we want, make no mistake. When asked why he was given a time out, he always knows what he did wrong. He just does not give a shit. He is highly amused by his own misbehavior, and I’ll admit that it can be awfully cute.
Which makes it all the more unfair. Because Zachary has always tried to please, to do what he is supposed to. Zachary’s needs are complicated and infuriating, but he is never bad just to amuse himself. He is insistent because he really needs things a particular way. And, yet, Benjamin gets to be cute while intentionally misbehaving, while Zach is labeled a pain in the ass for insisting things must be just so.
So, go ahead, laugh at the picture on my header. It is meant to be funny. But just know that behind it are a house full of broken toys, bruised siblings, exasperated parents, and a child who has discovered Daddy’s new shredder.