My sweet, stubborn, lovable, maddening little Tobin,
You’re five years old now. You’re straddling that line between big kid and little kid, and that can be a hard position to occupy. You have such social and emotional awareness sometimes—you know just when to chime in with a flattering word or an expression of love. I don’t mean to imply that you’re being manipulative (though you probably sometimes are). You just seem to understand that people need to hear things sometimes, and you know that words have power.
That has its downside as well. You’ve developed some attitude problems. When your dad and I ask you to do something you don’t want to do (say, eat neatly with a fork), you let out a very put-upon “Seriously?” You’ve been using words to express yourself since before your curls grew in, and you have no qualms about employing them to whatever effect you decide is necessary.
Photo by Denny
Your summer session at Kinderfarm went well, and I think you’re excited about going back in September after a couple of weeks of break. We had Miles’s back-to-school event last night, and some of your neighborhood contemporaries are starting kindergarten. I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about that. You are definitely academically ready for school. You’ve really taken an interest in math recently, solving problems in your head and telling us how you figured them out. At times like that, I regret declining to enroll you in kindergarten. Then other times you scream at us in rage, yank toys out of Callum’s hands, and insist on performing an act one more time after I tell you not to do it. At times like that, I think another year of maturing would be good for you.
In any case, you like Kinderfarm, and you’re getting a lot of opportunities there for learning that you won’t have in kindergarten. You’ll get to physical things that suit your temperament, like caring for animals, boating, horseback riding, and wintertime sledding and skating. Kindergarten is good, but it’s a lot of hard work sitting in chairs. You’ll do well to use your body and have fun for another year before the serious challenges begin. Also, I’ll get to put off helping two kids with homework in the evenings for one more year.
We had a fun and low-key birthday celebration for you at Mubby and Skitter’s house. You got some good toys and a cool Incredible Hulk ice cream cake. This morning you opened your presents from us first thing (little Legos, a new wallet with a promise of your own library card to put in it, a personalized Odd Squad t-shirt, and a two-wheel scooter). We’re having dinner at Mekong (your choice) and will sing and blow out candles on your almond cake (also your choice) this evening.
This morning I had an appointment with the nurse-midwife who delivered you (just a check-up—no more siblings for you, I promise). She could hardly believe that you joined us five whole years ago, and it was fun to remember what was in retrospect my easiest birth. Birth is never easy, but you were my least complicated delivery. You came on out, looked around, and settled right in.
Despite your occasional behavior challenges, you still have those qualities. Miles loves to tell the story of when you were playing tee-ball and had made it to second base. You were waiting for your teammate to hit the ball so you could run to third, but that sometimes takes a while in preschool-league tee-ball. While you were hanging out on second, you made friends with the kid from the other team who was fielding. I admire your easy conversational style and ability to get along with other kids (so long as they’re not your brothers).
Photo by Denny
Actually you get along with your brothers pretty well most of the time. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s sweet.
Your current favorites: Odd Squad and Cyberchase, pepperoni pizza, having your own wallet and filling it with your cash and cards, jumping around on furniture like a crazy man, looking at the fish in the seafood section at the Co-op, and running running running dancing dancing dancing never stopping.
Your dad was out of town for a few days late last week and early this week. We spent most of that time at Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, but we spent Thursday night here at home. It was the first time I’d put three kids to bed as the only grownup in the house. You and Miles did a great job. He read stories to you and cuddled you while I put Callum to bed. When I went in to check on you guys after I got Callum down, you were both on the bottom bunk. When I checked on you the next morning, you were both in the top bunk. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m very glad you have each other.
I don’t think there’s a cage out there that could hold you, my Tobin. You’re so sweet and so salty. You’re exhausting and frustrating and cuddly and indomitable. Even your hair is fantastically unmanageable. You’re a rascal, and rascals usually come out on top.
Happy birthday, my rascally love. I’m so glad you’re mine.
Photo by Gary Clarke