My sweet Tobin,
What an imaginative little guy you are. Every day it seems like you want to pretend to be something new. Sometimes you’re a wolf puppy, ready to snuggle with your wolf mommy in your den (aka your bed in fort mode, with a blanket draped over the edge of the top bunk). Sometimes you’re a mommy to your baby doll, Aleks. Sometimes you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, sometimes you’re Harry Potter, sometimes you’re a Black Bot Boy.
Speaking of Harry Potter, we just finished reading the first book in the series together with Miles. You’re probably a bit young, but you’re pretty brave, and there’s no way you’d let Miles access to something without demanding it for yourself. Now that the weather is colder, we’ve been driving to school more often. I miss walking on Pretty Valley with you, but the drive gives us a few minutes to talk about Harry Potter. You tell me about your favorite parts and ask me questions. For a while there you were pronouncing Voldemort as “Wal-Mart,” which was pretty hilarious. Several times I’ve gotten so involved in our conversation that I’ve missed the turn to get to school.
School seems to be going great. We had your first parent-teacher conference a couple of weeks ago, and your teacher says you’re doing very well in both the academic and social arenas. She said you’ve gotten to be good friends with two other boys, Gavin and Landon. She also said you’re already doing kindergarten level work, which doesn’t help our conundrum about whether to send you to real kindergarten in the fall. I think your dad wants to send you, but I’m more inclined to wait another year. We think of you as an aggressive kid, but your soccer experience this fall showed us that you’re actually more intimidated by bigger kids than we thought you’d be. You’re on the physically small side anyway, and you could potentially be in class with kids who are a whole year older than you. Also, down the road, I don’t know that I want you to be one of the last of your friends to get a drivers license. I worry about you getting driven around by yahoos. I can’t guarantee that you won’t be a yahoo when you’re 16, but at least I know you’ll be a smart yahoo.
On the other hand, I don’t want you getting turned off by school because it’s too easy, which I’ve heard can happen if a kid is old for his class. We try to do a lot of brain-stimulating stuff at home, so I hope that could potentially offset any classroom boredom. It’s a pickle. I just don’t know.
Selfishly, I wouldn’t mind keeping you in half-day preschool for another year, just so I get more time with you. You’re not going to be a little guy forever, and I don’t want to throw away that time together. You’re a good shopping buddy. We have our haunts: Hy-Vee, Panera, Costco. You’re a friend to everyone you meet.
One of the biggest points of pride for me has been your new membership in Family Folk Machine. We had our fall concerts over the last couple of weeks, and I couldn’t have been happier as I watched and listened to you sing your solos and join in with the choir on the group songs. You know all the words to all the songs, though sometimes you do your own variations. You were brave and sang loud and clear. You were the littlest FFM member this fall, and I know you’re just going to get better. Your only issue right now is that you want a different colored shirt. You’ve been wearing Miles’s old red one that he outgrew, and I don’t know if it’s the color that bothers you or you just want to strike out on your own. Either way, I think it’s fine to get you a new one. Too bad you didn’t mention it until after this season’s order had gone out.
Photo by Gary Clarke
We’ve had our challenges this month, especially with you listening when your dad and I ask you to do things you don’t want to do (e.g., get ready for school, get ready for bed). Our system is that you get two “nice asks”—that is, the initial request and one polite reminder. After that, we find ourselves yelling. We don’t like to yell at you. I hate being angry and I just want our days to run smoothly. But for some reason the two nice asks often don’t sink in. It’s always the worst at the end of the day, when everyone else is tired and you seem to find new reserves of energy for running in circles with no pants on.
And yet, once you finally snuggle into bed and we’ve read our stories and turned off the light, you’re old cold in just a few minutes. I can pull my arm out from under your head and gracelessly plop you into a zone of the bed where you’re unlikely to fall out, all without disturbing your sleep. You’re an all-or-nothing kind of guy, little Tobes. You wear me out, but you’re still my special little guy.
Photo by Gary Clarke