The Tobin Times #8

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:45 pm

My special Tobin,

Nobody understands it.  Maybe you understand it, but you haven’t done much to explain yourself.  We can’t figure out how it’s possible for a baby to nap as little as you do and maintain such good humor.  It’s simply illogical.

I got a white noise machine.  I tried putting you down at exactly 2 hour intervals.  I tried 3 hour intervals.  I tried the same time every day.  I tried just watching your signals.  The going to sleep is no problem, usually.  It’s just that you always wake up after 20 or 30 minutes.  This is not enough napping.

To clarify:  this is not enough napping for me.  You seem to be doing fine.  You’re still growing and laughing and eating and playing and making these hilarious bear roars, and most nights you sleep well.  You just seem morally opposed to long naps.  That’s why these memos and your brother’s are always late nowadays, because I never get an hour to sit down and write them.  It’s your fault if you don’t have a comprehensive record of your formative years, you little fart.

And yet, you are the jolliest little guy.  You laugh at all kinds of things.  You get really excited about your favorite foods (currently yogurt), and you’re ticklish, and I swear the other day you gave me an actual kiss with suction and release.  You may have been trying to nurse from my cheek, but I’ll take it.

As always, your greatest source of laughter is your brother.  A week or two ago, your dad was working late downstairs while you and I were asleep in the Mommy and Daddy bed.  We still call it that in the hope that one day it will regain its accuracy.  Miles woke up and came in, which he sometimes does, and your dad usually takes him to the bathroom or gets him a drink or comforts him, then he ushers him back to bed in his own room.  But that night, since your dad wasn’t there, Miles seized the opportunity and climbed into bed with us.  When your dad finally came up to bed, he found his spot taken, and rather than haul Miles out of bed and risk waking him, he went into Miles’s room and slept there.

Somewhere around 2:30 a.m., you woke up, all ready for a Power Hour.  As I’ve mentioned before, a Power Hour involves you crawling around, wide awake and in a good mood, while I ignore you as best I can while making sure you don’t roll off the bed.  This isn’t usually too big an issue, since your dad is generally on the other side.  That morning, though, you looked over and found (insert sound of an angelic choir) MILES.  You were absolutely psyched to see him.  He was fast asleep, and I wanted him to stay that way, because I seriously didn’t need two awake children at that moment.

For you, though, it was like Christmas morning.  You crawled over to him, whapping him on the back with your little fists in an attempt to get his attention.  You smiled and laughed at his snores.  He was sleeping in a shirt and underpants, and his butt featured the face of Captain America.  That caught your attention, so you did a 180 and starting whapping his behind.

It wasn’t until 4:00 that you gave up and fell asleep.  Miles slept through the whole thing.  Something tells me that once we get you moved into your own room for nighttime sleeping, you’ll be creeping into Miles’s bed.  That’s not a bad idea, since Miles wants us to have five more babies.  In the unlikely event of that occurring, we’ll definitely need you guys to double up.

You are fully mobile these days, doing kind of a hybrid crawl/scootch powered by your right foot.  When you’re still, you can stay up on all fours pretty well, but your belly hits the ground when it’s time to move.  Sometimes you gather dust bunnies for me.  You’re very helpful.

You’ve learned how to remove your pacifier and put inappropriate things into your mouth.  Your favorite target is the scraps of paper your brother leaves around after his paper-cutting activities.  I try to keep things swept up, but it’s amazing how those things hide in the nooks and crannies of our house.  It’s even more amazing how you find them.

Your “talking” is beginning to sound more like English, with distinct syllables and lots of different phonemes.  You can definitely make an M sound, so I’m waiting in anticipation of a clear mama.  I’m probably kidding myself, though.  You’ll say Miles first, or some variant.

I’m so glad I know you, little Tobin.  I’m so grateful that I get to spend all day with you.  I’m also grateful that your dad is so happy to see you when he gets home (and you him).

You’ve been asleep for 31 minutes, so I’m going to finish this up so as to not push my luck.

I love you and your tickly little neck and chubby little thighs and nuzzly little nose.






Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:21 pm

Tobin had crawled onto Miles’s legs in a way that had to have been uncomfortable for Miles.  As I extracted Tobin from the situation…

A:  Thank you for not hurting Tobin.  You were very patient with him.

M:  I kind of…like him.


A harsh critic

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:48 pm

Miles and I were in the bathroom.  I noticed that a needle, which Denny had recently used to extract a splinter, was on the floor.

A:  Why did Daddy let that fall on the floor?

M:  (solemnly) He’s not a good person.

Arm of one

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:45 pm

I was helping Miles go to the bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  I was wearing an old favorite sweater, one that has seen more structurally intact days.

A:  Oh, look at that hole in my sweater.

M:  That’s not a hole.

A:  It’s not?  What is it?

M:  It’s an arm.


Monthly Miles Memo #51

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:09 pm

Dear Miles,

At a recent birthday party, our friend was bemoaning her lot in life as the mother of two girls.  “The drama,” she said.  “All the drama.”  I’m not sure a flair for the dramatic can be so neatly divided down gender lines, though, because things have been pretty rollercoastery around here lately.

You feel everything so, so deeply.  The strangest things will make you burst into tears, like today as we were eating lunch and you realized you’d done an alternate version of a verse in a song from school.  Two nights you had a huge meltdown on the topic of ibuprofen.  You’d fallen down and possibly jammed your thumb and wrist at the playground, and your dad wanted you to take ibuprofen (which you’ve had lots of times and know you like).  You refused, but your dad was holding his ground.  I saw his point:  he was trying to reinforce the idea that there are some times that Mommy and Daddy get to make the decision.  I was coming down more on the side of, “It’s his body.  If he doesn’t want pain relief, let him deal with it.”

In the end, we compromised.  I was afraid you were going to cry so hard you’d make yourself throw up, and not because of pain in your wrist.  Your dad backed off, and eventually you consented to the ibuprofen after you’d calmed down.  To be honest, I think the issue was more of a scrape than a wrist jam, so the ibuprofen was probably pointless.

In another attempt to be logical with you, your dad has started playing the Stubborn Game.  That’s a game in which you suggest something reasonable and he insists on the opposite for no good reason (art imitating life and all).  You get a kick out of it, and maybe you’re beginning to understand his ulterior motive.  One time you wanted to play the Stubborn Game with me, and I said, “No, and you can’t make me.”

That made you cry.  Fantastic.

Your strong emotions go the other way, too.  You’re a hoot when you dance and sing your songs from school.  We went out to your Nana and Papa’s farm last weekend, and you were so sweet and affectionate with your grandparents.  You had an amazing time playing on the farm, jumping off hay bales and riding with Papa on the four-wheeler.  When it was time to go, only a promise of a visit from the Easter bunny could drag you away, and even then, you really wanted to bring Nana and Papa with us.

You’re getting more independent, too.  You’re always proud of yourself when you get dressed on your own, and though you prefer to have help with bathroom tasks, you can do it by yourself when you must.  I think mostly you’re just very fond of routine, and even when you’re capable of doing something, you like your dad or me to help you if that’s how we’ve always done it.  I can sympathize.  I have trouble with change sometimes too, but it’s also important to learn flexibility.  You’re getting better at that, and I know you’ll continue to grow.

Your favorite new(ish) game is “Tobin Talk,” in which you demand that your dad or I talk in a squeaky voice and dictate Tobin’s presumed thoughts.  You do seem to want to play Tobin Talk at the most inopportune times, like when we’re in the parking ramp, trying to get the stroller collapsed and smashed into the trunk of the car, and someone wants our parking spot, and he’s screaming his head off.  It drives your dad and me crazy, because those are not the moments we feel like putting on a fake voice and describing the situation; we just want to get it finished and move out.

I think it’s a way for you to make sense of the world, though.  By asking us to do Tobin Talk, it forces us to slow down and talk over what’s happening.  It’s also sometimes a good way to get you to open up.  If “Tobin” asks, you’ll explain the rationale behind a rule.  It’s nice to know you get it, even though you don’t always want to follow the rules that apply to you.  Sharing is a challenge, both with your brother and other kids.  It’s probably no coincidence that this trait is emerging just as Tobin is getting grabbier.  You’ve gotten territorial about toys you never cared about before Tobin showed interest in them.

That said, I am happy that I can once again report that you’re always kind and gentle with Tobin.  You may yank a toy away from him, but you’d never hurt him or yell at him.  He smiles and laughs when you sing and dance for him.  You’re great for providing a few minutes of entertainment while I try to accomplish a household task or two.  When I thought about having a second child, I was worried about how much more work it would be than just having you.  It’s true, it’s more work, and I have less time and energy than I used to.  But one thing I didn’t anticipate was the value-add of a fascinating older sibling.  Tobin could just stare and stare at you, and you’re a good sport about it most of the time.

I had to stop this post midway, because we had such a rough day yesterday that I just didn’t have the energy or the kindness of spirit to write anything tender.  I know it’s rough on you too.  You’re learning so much and growing so fast, and you get stressed out like everyone else.  Today you’re my sweet little guy again, and it’s easy to regain my perspective.  On days like this, I want you stay 51 months old forever.  On days like yesterday, well…I’m glad I have your father.

We’ll make it.  I love you, my little skinny-butt boy.




Revenge of the bodily fluids

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:46 am

Not such a great day, yesterday.

First, Tobin had a terrible night.  I was optimistic, because he stayed in his crib longer than usual, but that night turned into a series of Power Hours broken up by 20-minute chunks of sleep.  Everyone was grumpy in the morning except Miles.

While Miles was off developing his little Montessori brain, Tobin crabbed and grumped and didn’t nap much.  He didn’t want me to put him down at all, so I held him and tried to get a few things done one-handed.  After we went to get Miles, Tobin’s grumpiness continued, but he was more or less content to play on the floor if he could see his big brother.  I took that opportunity to go put in a load of laundry.  I came back upstairs, and everything was fine until I remembered that I’d been soaking two pairs of Miles’s underwear.  He’s been having a hard time remembering to go to the bathroom when he only kind of has to go, as opposed to oh geez oh geez I have to go to the bathroom right now and oops I guess a little came out.

I really wanted to get those underpants into that load of laundry, so I double-checked that Tobin was okay, dumped out the poopy water, grabbed the poopy underpants, and raced downstairs.  On the trip down, I smacked my head into the part that hangs down over the stairs, which is usually taller than I am, but I guess my bounding leaps increased my height by just enough that I made significant contact.

Miles may or may not have learned a new word.  I didn’t follow up on that one.

I got the underwear into the laundry, came upstairs, and saw that Tobin had spit out his pacifier and had something in his mouth.  I looked down at my hands, which didn’t look dirty but were surely crawly with e-coli.  I looked at Tobin, who didn’t seem to be actually choking, so I hedged my bets and washed my hands really fast.  Fortunately, it was just a bit of carpet fuzz, and I got it out of Tobin’s mouth before anything terrible happened.

The rest of the afternoon went okay.  Tobin took a good nap, and I was still exhausted from the night before, so Miles got more computer time than usual, which he thought was pretty great.  We ordered pizza for dinner because I just couldn’t deal with cooking anything.

Then came bedtime.

I had gotten Tobin to sleep, and Denny and I were cuddling Miles in his bed.  We’d finished reading stories, and I turned off the light and was in the middle of telling one final bedtime story.  We were doing “family sandwich,” in which Denny and I are the bread and Miles is the baloney.  I was lying on my left side with Miles cuddled up behind me.

Out of nowhere, I heard a


and felt the warmth spread over my back.  I gave out an involuntary shriek, jumped out of bed and barely dodged another wave.

Miles’s entire bed and entire parentage were covered in vomit.  Miles started shrieking too (because throwing up is scary for a little kid), and Tobin woke up and started crying.  That upset Miles further, because he knows it’s bad news when the baby gets woken up, and he yelled, “Oh no, Tobin’s awake!”

Denny and I were trying to calm everyone down while removing puke-covered clothing from ourselves and Miles.  Denny took Miles into the bathroom for an emergency bath.  When he saw his pajama shirt in the mirror, he said, through sobs, “It’s RUINED.”  Denny tried to assure him that it wasn’t ruined, that it was just dirty and we’d wash it and it would be fine, but Miles wouldn’t drop the subject until Denny agreed that it was, in fact, ruined.

I went to get Tobin, tried briefly to reassure him, then gave up and put him  on the floor while I stripped Miles’s bed and got new sheets on it.  Denny worked on cleaning Miles up while I worked on getting Tobin back to sleep, then Denny put Miles back to bed.

Eventually we met in the hallway again, both of us half-naked because we hadn’t had a moment to put on clean clothes.  We must have said something to each other, though I don’t remember the words we exchanged.  I do remember looking at Denny and thinking, “Well, here we are.”

This morning when I went to wake Miles up for school, I said, “That was a crazy night we had last night, wasn’t it?”

He said, “What was crazy?”

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