Tobin, Tobin, Tobin.
I started writing this last night when I was feeling pretty frustrated with your behavior. As always, I have forgiven you, because you once again managed to make up for your infuriating behavior with extreme funniness and sweetness. You are going to be a rabblerouser, little boy. Please try to be more like, say, Gandhi than Glenn Beck.
Some days you dazzle me with your wit and verbal acumen. Some days you make me want to kick a wall in frustration. These are often the same days.
I don’t know if you’re testing limits or just so enjoy doing the things you do that you refuse to acknowledge correction. You’ve developed an extremely annoying habit of throwing food off your tray at dinner, and when we admonish you, it seems to have zero impact. You were displaying some similar behavior today—dumping out a set of Miles’s tiny Legos that need to stay together and not get lost. I told you a couple of times in a reasonable but firm voice not to do it, and when you ignored me and kept doing it, I grabbed you firmly by both arms and yelled.
I don’t like yelling at you, but it’s the only way to get your attention. I hate hearing people scream at their kids, and I hate being the one to do it, but hitting isn’t an option. I don’t know what else to do to communicate clearly to you. That made you upset, and you cried, and to be honest I’m still not sure you’ll refrain from dumping out the Legos in the future. I try not to say no to every little thing. You’re a squirrelly little kid, and forcing you to sit still and be quiet all the time isn’t a reasonable way to live our lives. Fortunately you haven’t shown much for aggressive tendencies—you’re not a hitter or a biter. I just need you to listen when I tell you not to dump food off your tray, okay? It’s part of socializing you into a functioning human being.
And now, here we are, the next day. We’ve been running lots of Halloween-related errands lately, gathering items from many different stores. You’re my little adventure buddy, and oftentimes in the evenings, hours and hours after we’ve completed some task, you wrap your arms around me and say something like, “I just love going to Walgreens with you.” Walgreens was particularly interesting this time because there was a spooky, human-sized Halloween decoration out, a skeleton draped in black robes. You didn’t want to get too close to it, and you also filled in your memory gaps by deciding that he was holding birthday cake in his hand. I don’t remember that part.
Photo by Denny
You’ve been talking about it a lot, as well as the spooky music and big spiders and little spiders and Angry Birds coats we saw at another Halloween store. You’ve been asking to go back there, and maybe we will after Halloween when all the spooky stuff is on sale.
Two other things you’ve told me lately: “I just love watching Daddy run,” and “I just love going to the Covered Bridge Festival with you.” The running thing came from last weekend, when we watched your dad in the Run for the Schools. You were very proud of him and excited to see all the runners. Miles was mad that he didn’t win, but you were just glad to be there. The Covered Bridge Festival, coupled with a visit to Nana and Papa’s, was also a big hit. Your favorite thing there was the corn pit, though you also really liked riding Papa’s tractor and listening to the band.
Photo by Gary Clarke
A few weeks ago, we went to the Northside Oktoberfest. Our old favorite Justin Roberts was playing, and you had a blast dancing. He even played your favorite, “Henrietta’s Hair.” After a while you got hungry (“Where are the snackses?”), so we took a brownie break.
Photo by Denny
Most Sundays, while Miles and I are at choir practice, you and your dad have some special time together. One time he took you to a special event at the Children’s Museum, which featured large vehicles and machinery for kids to climb on and explore. Given your love of construction equipment, especially diggers, it was the perfect activity for you. You’re usually the first to spot a digger or a tractor as we drive around. We even passed a wind turbine blade on the back of a truck the other day. That was pretty impressive.
Photo by Denny
You want to be just like Miles in so many ways. You think you’re ready to go to school. We read stories together at night, and when it’s your turn to choose, you copy Miles’s method: you run your finger along the titles and say “tuh, tuh, tuh.” The repeated sound thing is Miles’s way of giving me a clue about the first letter of the title of the story he wants. I don’t think you’re actually connecting the dots there, because most of the time when you say “tuh, tuh, tuh,” you haven’t even chosen a story yet. But it’s really cute to see you mimic him in those small behaviors.
And yet, you are still totally yourself. Your most noticeable trait is still your loquaciousness. You make strangers gawk and chuckle when you engage them in conversation. At a shoe store recently, you told the sales person all about my running habits. I don’t think I would have even needed to be there. I could have just sent you in with my shoe size and you would have picked out something perfect for me. You make funny faces all the time, and your giant, chubby-cheeked grin is one of my favorite sights in the world.
You’re a tough little guy. It takes a lot to get you down. The small troubles of life, from a bonk on the head to a scolding, don’t cause you much distress. I admire that resilience even as I struggle to manage it.
Your favorite foods right now are pizza, Goldfish crackers, popcorn, and broccoli. You ask almost every day if we can watch Perdonzo (Rapunzel, aka Disney’s Tangled) and make popcorn. We rented it so many times I finally bought it, and I think it’s paid for itself in saved rental fees already. You usually lose interest right about when the popcorn runs out, so I’m not sure if you know how it ends. You like to remind me that “Perdonzo has very long hair. I have leetle hair.” I need to make broccoli again soon, too. You like it best roasted with olive oil and lemon juice.
Photo by Denny
I love you, little heart. The problem is I want everyone else to love you too, and that’s easier when you’re not dumping out their Legos. You work on that, I’ll make the popcorn, and between the two of us (with some help from your dad and others), we’ll channel your joy and persistence and charm into great things. I know it.
Photo by Denny