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.