He’s a brick shithouse in a tutu. That body bounces off the walls of our tiny Los Angeles home, leaving wreckage in its wake. He is strong and headstrong and also has a big head, which he is not above using as a battering ram.
During school, he is under control. The daily routine, the group of friends, and the physical activity keep him regulated. But the summer session got out two weeks ago, and Benjamin has fallen to pieces.
He is breaking things he likes – such as his new castle – just for the thrill of seeing them come apart. He is hurting people because it adds a little spice to his day. He is calling everyone a “baby” – the only insult he knows – in order to get sent to the Unkindness Chair so that there is a little variety to his morning.
Zachary is in camp all morning, which in theory ought to mean there is more time to devote to Benjamin, but he is caught in the middle. Too young for day camp, too old to be satisfied hanging around the house so his baby sister can nap and nurse. Our au pair is on three mornings a week so that she or I can take Benjamin out to play, which certainly helps. But, I need her help afternoons and evenings, too (ever tried to get a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a ten-month-old bathed and in bed by yourself?), so I cannot have her on every morning.
And, even when we go off together, it’s not the same as the Under-Five Cocktail Party that is preschool. He is an extrovert, and suddenly he has been yanked from his peer group. Playdates? Everyone is travelling or has plans. Or maybe they just don’t like me. The one or two playdates I can scrounge up each week only underscore how starved he is for peers, as he turns into Charming Dude for the duration then reverts to Mr. Destructo the minute the playdate is over.
I get frustrated. He is so big and so strong and so fucking verbal that I forget – we all forget – that he is a baby. A confused baby who cannot understand why his daily fix of friends has been yanked out from under his extra-wide feet. We have to protect his older brother and younger sister from the force of nature that is Benjamin, of course we do.
I just wish we could soothe his rage.
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