First of all, there is the typical two year old behaviour. Fortunately, the older two never did the terrible twos. Unfortunately, Benjamin is making up for it with a vengeance. He loves to yell the word "no." His face gets all red and his body shakes and he clenches his fists and he yells with this really guttural pitch. It's actually really funny, and we usually have to suppress our laughter. Of course, even though it's cute as anything, we still have to deal with the defiant behaviour.
Second is his independent nature. This kid wants to go where he wants to go. And if you tell him no, then that usually intensifies the desire, even if it had been waning. There are seriously moments when I actually choose not to say anything, because if I leave it alone he'll likely stop, but if I intervene then he'll do it out of stubbornness.
He's very, very, very quick to figure things out. I built our backyard fence and gate just before Colin was two. We never had a single issue with the boys being able to get out. With Benjamin, we've had to padlock the gates shut. There's no learning curve with him. He just looked at that gate one day, wanted out, and so jammed the latch up, wiggled the gate loose and took off for the street. The same thing happened with his bedroom door. Once he climbed out of his crib, we put him in a toddler bed. Which means he has absolutely no use for actually staying in bed. Every night is a battle to keep him in there. I put a doorknob safety handle on the inside of his door, hoping it would keep him in. Plus our doorknobs are really old and are slippery and tricky to handle without the right amount of pressure and angle of leverage. It didn't matter. He had figured out the right combination of actions within two minutes.
More often than not, we find ourselves in a reasoning circle with a two year old. He simply doesn't respond much to direction. I can say with all patience "it is dark outside and you need to go to sleep" and he'll respond in a kind, explaining tone "I'd like to go downstairs." He usually isn't in a tantrum; it's more like he feels perhaps we don't understand what he's saying, or he hasn't expressed himself adequately, and so he just keeps telling us the same thing, and I keep telling him the same thing, thus the never-ending circle.
My absolute favourite thing about Benjamin right now is the cuddle time. Even though I spend most of my days in bed, he loves to wander upstairs and crawl into bed with me. We'll lie next to each other and he'll tell me stories, or we'll watch the birds out the window, or we'll play finger games like "Round and round the garden goes the teddy bear" or "Johnny Whoop" or "Give me five." He loves to snuggle right into me and put his hands on my cheeks. He is very possessive of me, even with the older boys. Colin and Caleb still love to cuddle with me, and Benjamin gets very upset if he happens to witness it, angrily proclaiming "my mommy!" and trying to push the boys off. I'm glad my parents will be here when the new baby comes, because Benjamin is really going to take it hard that he'll have to share my attention.
Most of all, Benjamin right now is just so darn cute! His soft red hair falling around his face and those big blue eyes combine to absolutely melt your heart. Everywhere we go, people think he is adorable. And he really is. Somehow I have developed a massive measure of patience, because there are certainly moments when I look at what he is doing and think "why am I not losing both my mind and my temper over this?" Benjamin certainly knows how to get under James' skin. But I guess Benjamin and I just have the perfect personality match that helps us along.