The Tobin Times #22

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:39 pm

My dear Tobin,

Nowadays, when people ask how old you are, I have to answer “almost two.”  As usual, that seems impossible, but time keeps passing without my consent.

We’ve been all over the place this month, from Ames to Lincoln to Madison and back to Ames.  We finally have a weekend at home, and I’m looking forward to having some time to just relax and hang out with my dudes.  Shockingly (as Miles would say, “I’m being sarcastic”), this is coming late, so I’ve already written out our trip to Lincoln and Uncle Tyler’s wedding.  We went to another wedding, Angela and Nate’s in Madison.  You had a good time, dancing and snacking on fancy French fries and hiding under table cloths.  You also got a thrill out of the Madison Farmers Market and Children’s Museum.

You are still chatty, funny, and silly.  You like to tell jokes, which are usually of the absurdist variety (e.g., “Doughnut on my toes!”), and you laugh and laugh at your own wit.  You are sharp and good at analysis and all forms of communication.  Recently we played with your friend Tristan, and when we talked to Mubby about it, she asked, “Is Tristan a boy or a girl?” you answered, “He’s a little boy, just like me.”  These 7- and 8-word sentences are become more and more common as you tell us your perspective on the world.

Today we visited your brother’s classroom for a special last-day-of-summer-school sharing event, and you took off your shirt, right there in the middle of the class.  I should have asked you why.  You probably had a reason.

You’re a big daddy’s boy right now.  He’s usually out of bed when you wake up, and the first thing you ask is, “Where’s Daddy?”  Actually that’s the second thing you say.  The first is typically a comment on what you were dreaming about.  A couple of days ago, it was “haircut.”  You haven’t yet had a haircut and you’re in no danger of needing one any time soon.  We’re going to have to keep your exposed little scalp in hats this summer.

Anyway, you’re crazy for your dad.  When he walks home from the bus stop, you stand by the window, up on your tip-toes.  When you see him, you squeal and wiggle and jump, and as soon as he comes in the door, you greet him with a loud, “DADDY!”  You run to him to give him a hug, though sometimes you get distracted by his backpack and want to check on that.  Today we went downtown and he joined us for lunch, and when we were done, he help me load you kids and your accoutrements into the car.  I thought your heart would break when you realized he wasn’t getting in the car with us to go home.

For the historical record, it’s important to note a timeline-worthy event that happened this week.  The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which in effect requires the federal government to recognize marriages between gay people in states where it is legal, such as Iowa.  Friends of ours are already celebrating how much easier it is all going to be come tax time (apparently it’s a huge headache to file as married at the state level and single at the federal level).  That’s just a practical matter, though.  Symbolically, it’s much bigger.  I can’t know yet how your life will turn out, Tobin, but I’m so glad that you’ll never remember a time when the government thought it could tell you whom you should marry.  There’s nothing better in this world than love, my dear.

Photo by Beth Clarke

After lunch downtown today, we spent a few minutes at the library playground.  With some help from your dad, you got pretty high up on a ladder.  From there you could see the Ped Mall fountain, which was turned on.  It’s the first time you’ve seen it on this season, and you must not have remembered it from last year, because you got a look of pure delight on your face.  You turned to your dad, who was still helping you balance on the ladder, and said, “What’s that water over there?”

It was almost nap time, so I promised you we’d come back downtown to play in the fountain later this afternoon.  We will.  You love to splash in the water, and your smile is one of the main reasons for everything I do.

Photo by Beth Clarke

We were at Hy-Vee a while back, chatting as we will with your Hy-Vee employee “girlfriend,” and you said to me, “You’re big.”  I laughed and said, “Well, bigger than you, anyway.”  Your girlfriend said, “But not forever,” and we all laughed.   Then I froze.  Just a few minutes earlier, we had run into a friendly acquaintance of mine and her little boy.  The little boy was a classmate of Miles’s some time ago, though he had been too sick with cancer to go to school for quite a while.  I didn’t know where the boy and his mom were in the store at that second, but I hoped so much that they weren’t in the aisle next to us where they could overhear that conversation.

That sweet boy died this month.  As I had that light-hearted exchange with the Hy-Vee employee, it hit me that the mother knew her son would never be bigger than her.  What a horrible thing for a mother to realize, that her little son will never outgrow her.  When I look at you and and your brother, I see your tiny bones (it’s always the shoulder blades that astound me for some reason), your little tummies going up and down as you breathe deeply in your sleep.  I want to bottle up that little-boy time and keep you tiny.  But what a goddamn luxury that is.  What a smug, hubristic desire it is to want to keep you small when I have every confidence that you will grow big.  How much would that mother give to see her son, tall and strong, walking down the aisle in his wedding tuxedo, regardless of whether it’s a bride or another groom who joins him?

You have my permission to get big.  Just remember to keep smiling and me and kissing me.

I love you more than all the water in the fountain.




A rule for all seasons

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:37 am

Tobin was being rascally, as usual, and torturing Miles.

M:  (in a very stern, grown-up, “these are the serious rules” voice) Never, ever put shoes on your hands and pretend they’re feet and kick people!


Monthly Miles Memo #65

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:38 pm

My dear Miles,

You, my love, are a study in contrasts.  Last night, after a fun time at the park, you and Tobin and your dad were coming back home.  You rang the doorbell and were rattling the door.  I was sitting on the couch.  Because the windows were open, I could hear your dad telling you, “We’re coming.  Don’t make Mommy get up” (it is a well-established fact in our household that Mommy’s Quiet Time is a very, very important part of each evening).

You kept ding-donging and banging, and when your dad and Tobes made it to the door, you did something uncooperative  (I’m not sure what because I couldn’t see it) that ended with Tobin getting bonked in the head with the door.  So, after a blissfully quiet hour while you guys played in the park, Mommy’s Quiet Time ended abruptly with a crying toddler, a rage-filled almost-kindergartener, and a frustrated dad.  We were all fine ten minutes later, but this kind of scene replays a lot around here.  You get your mind set on how something should work, and you have a very hard time deviating from that plan.

I report this not to disparage you, but to set up contrast with what your teacher told me yesterday after your first day in your summer class.  It’s a special three-week Get Ready for Kindergarten class at your old school.  Even though the people and the environment were familiar to you, change is hard, and you were nervous yesterday morning.  When I came to pick you up, Amber at the front desk reassured me that you jumped right in and did fine.  I chatted briefly with Ms. Lindsey, your teacher, and she remarked on how agreeable and easy-going you are.  She said that whenever she asked you to do something, you did it cheerfully.

We’ve heard similar stories from your previous teachers, so it’s nice (I guess) to know that you continue to save your rudest behavior for family.  Maybe that means you’re confident enough in our love to know we won’t kick you out of our gang.  I’m sure it’s hard having so little control over your world, and you’re asserting yourself in ways in which you can feel some authority.

We went on a walk yesterday past City High, which sparked a conversation about the schools you’ll go to in the future.  I told you that when you’re a teenager, if we’re still living in our current house, you’ll go to City High.  That seems like a long way off right now, but I have the feeling it’ll come faster than I can conceptualize now.  You couldn’t seem to conceptualize it at all, because you kept asked, “Yeah, but where will I go to first grade?”  Assuming all goes well for kindergarten, you’ll stay at Lucas for elementary school, so you’ll have a while to get used to that idea.

Your last day of preschool was super-fun.  It was a special day in which families were invited, and you were so excited to show Tobin around.  He was just as excited to be included, and he loved it when you read to him, did a puzzle with him, and showed him some scooping and sorting works.  You got a face painting (actually you chose your arm), played games, blew bubbles, and got a special rose as part of your graduation ceremony.

They kept the ceremony pretty low-key—no silly caps and gowns or stiff marching.  You just sat in a circle with your friends, and your teacher talked about the progress you’d made and the hard work you’d done that year.  I’m really proud of you.  You’ve grown tremendously since you started preschool, and you’re ready for new challenges.

You had a ton of fun at Uncle Tyler’s wedding a couple of weeks ago.  You got to do your all-time favorite thing, which is wedding-reception dancing.  We did some other fun things in Lincoln, too, like a trip to the Children’s Museum and the Children’s Zoo.  You played catch with Aunt Oxana while she was in her wedding dress, which solidified her “good sport” status in my eyes.  I hope we can spend more time with them in these upcoming years. You also got to see your cousins Maxwell, Meredith, and Anna at the wedding.  Meredith and Anna are good dance buddies, and Max showed you some exciting developments in the world of phone-based games.  We spent time at Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, and you and your dad and brother took a special day trip to the farm to see Nana and Papa, too.

Summer is truly underway now, after a slow and rainy start.  The air conditioning is running, the humidity is up, and we just got done making a batch of homemade raspberry lemonade.  You are a good lemon squeezer, and I’m glad you think it’s fun to make something from scratch rather than buy it by the jug.  We’ve gotten back into our nice-weather routine, which involves trips downtown to the Natural History Museum and the library, to the Flavor Ice stand, and to play in our yard and the neighborhood parks.  We celebrated Mother’s Day since my last update here, and as always, I am delighted to be your mother.  Your dad got one of my all-time favorite pictures of the two of us during our annual Mother’s Day photo shoot.

You are a human being, little Miles, full of contradictions and happiness and frustration and stinky feet and cuddles.  Having you around makes me feel such a wide array of emotions every single day.  Everything would be boring and stupid without you, so you’d better stick around a while.  No City High just yet, please.

Love every minute,



It did turn a bit red

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:56 pm

Tobin bonked his arm on the table.

T:  (rubbing it) I hurt my…  Elmo.

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