I worry about Zachary, who is so up in his own head sometimes that he makes his life more complicated than it needs to be. I have a vague suspicion of where that trait may have come from, and I feel sorry for a child who over-thinks everything from the play dates that he builds up in his little head to the reward he wants for his sticker chart.
I worry about Lilah physically. I was never one to run to the doctor, but with this little girl I am there every other week. Perhaps it is because she got Benjamin’s pathetic immune system (thanks to Daddy) combined with Zachary’s diminutive stature (thanks to Mommy). Or perhaps it was the pneumonia last year that landed her in the hospital for a week as a newborn. Or maybe she really does get sick a lot.
But the one I worry the most about is Benjamin. Because I just don’t get him.
He seems so heedless of rules and other people’s opinions that it’s easy to believe he is actually heedless of rules and other people’s opinions. He runs off laughing maniacally when asked to brush his teeth, he makes his body go limp when we try to get him into the house, and he screams loudly just to hear the sound of his own voice. On Sunday, I caught him sitting on top of his baby sister. I think he was trying to ride her.
I suspect, however, that he actually does care. I think there is a bravado there, covering a sensitive kid with a desire for constant stimulation. He wants to rocket around the house, but he wants us to find a way to stop him before he hurts himself. He wants us to be engaged in his game, even though his game is getting us to stop him from scraping his fork over the table. And we cannot find an effective way to stop him.
Stop right there, because I know you are going to offer advice. If you are going to suggest any of the following, don’t bother, because we’re already doing it:
- sticker chart
- not yelling and talking firmly
- taking away television privileges one minute at a time
- removing the fork from his hand
- time outs
- praise for good behavior
I’m also not interested in hearing any suggestions that we give him some special time each day just with a grown-up unless the suggestion comes with an offer to babysit the other two kids while I am patiently playing knights with Benjamin. We do the best we can to give him individual attention, but it seems the suggestion that we spend time alone with each kid each day never comes from people with three kids five and under. (What I am looking for in posting this, in case you are wondering, is commiseration.)
Benjamin is the kind of kid who, if he lived in a house of spanking, would try to get himself spanked, just to push the envelope a little further. He loves rules, because without them there would be nothing to break. He is charming, he is smart, and he is loving. He will make a mighty fine adult some day, if we can keep him alive that long.
But there are going to be some mighty tough teen years in the middle. Perhaps I had better alert the police department now.