The Tobin Times #37

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:52 am

My special Tobin,

Your dad and I think you’ve been on a growth spurt lately.  You’ve been eating a lot, including many healthy foods.  You had a salad for lunch with spinach, peas, bell peppers, pineapple, and strawberries.  You’ve also fallen into the habit of taking naps, which I thought we were long past.  That means falling asleep later, which means your brother often falls asleep on the bottom bunk waiting for you to fall asleep.  He prefers to sleep in the top bunk, where we typically move after you’ve fallen asleep on the bottom.  You, however, sleep better when he’s down on the bottom with you.

Photo by Denny

When you’re by yourself on the bottom, you usually need me or your dad to come snuggle you at some point during the night.  That doesn’t usually happen with your Bubby’s with you, but sometimes it does, and that’s a double-whammy.  It’s getting pretty hard for me to wedge myself between you and extract myself when you’ve fallen back asleep.  We really need to get you out of that habit before Little Potato shows up.

You’re excelling in other areas, though.  You’ve been doing great in your swimming lessons.  The course catalog indicated that three was the minimum age to sign up, so I was surprised when the person at the registration desk told me you were too young.  It turns out the minimum is actually three and a half, but they gave us special permission because I said you were comfortable in the water.  That you are—if anything, you’re a little too brave, quick to dunk your head and jump off the side of the pool.  Your just-turned-three status hasn’t hurt you any in swim lessons, though.  Your teacher, Randi, says you’ve been doing well and improving from lesson to lesson.  I just signed you up for another session, so we hope you can continue your progress.  You look really cute flailing around with your kickboard.

Photo by Denny

Construction vehicles remain your favorite things to climb on, talk about (except maybe Doctor Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy, but more on that later), and look at.  There’s some reworking happening at the park across the street, and you love it when your dad takes you down there after hours so you can check out the enormous excavator.  He also took you to an event last weekend at the Children’s Museum called “Move it!  Dig it!  Do it!”  You got to explore in a lot of different big vehicles, like a skid loader, a cement truck, an ambulance, and a fire truck.

Photo by Denny

You were playing nicely with Play-Doh just now, so I thought I could sit down to write this.  Now I see you’re licking the Play-Doh, and you won’t listen to any of my admonishments to stop licking it.  Gross, but I’m pretty sure it’s non-toxic.

You remain funny, articulate, and expressive.  You do great gestures and eyebrow work.  You’ve taken to miming certain words or concepts, not because you don’t know how to say them, but just (I think) as an opportunity to be creative.  For example, when you talk about Dr. Dreadful (again, more on that later) and the fact that you might be too young for it, instead of saying the word young you’ll slowly lower your hand toward the floor, elevator-style, to indicate shortness.

Your current favorites:  cashews, Wild Kratts, pepperoni pizza, veggies and ranch dressing, listening to your brother read to you, taking showers and baths, getting candy from vending machines.

Your current un-favorites:  using the potty (I don’t even know, man), Dr. Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy.

Dr. Dreadful’s Alien Autopsy is a game/activity Miles got a year or two ago.  It mostly involves mixing together various ingredients to make candy that looks like alien guts.  You found the box downstairs a while ago, and it intrigued you.  The instructions were missing, so I looked online to see if I could find them.  Easily enough, I found a website dedicated to the product line.  A video auto-played, and it was full of mad scientist style cackling and lightning bolts and spooky music.  You hated it, freaked out, and refused to do any of the candy-making activities.

And yet, ever since, you’ve been talking about it nearly nonstop.  Every day we have about ten conversations on the topic.  “Why is Dr. Dreadful for big kids?  Why not for [elevator hand] kids?”  “Is that candy disgusting…or gross?”  “Why didn’t I want to eat that candy?”  I think Dr. Dreadful has replaced the big kid in the park with the Nintendo 3DS as your emotionally challenging obsession.  I don’t think hiding the Dr. Dreadful Alien Autopsy kit will get it out of your mind, either.  We met that kid in the park once and you talked about him for months.  There may be a lot more Dr. Dreadful discussion in our future.

Photo by Denny

You were the first one in the family besides me to feel Little Potato kick.  We were snuggling up in bed one morning and your leg was against my midsection.  Little Potato chose that moment to do some serious leg work, and it was pretty fun for you to feel it.  Now, when we talk about it, you mime frantic kicking.  It looks a lot like what you do in the swimming pool.

You have such a curious little brain, a strong little heart, and a wiggly little body.  You are hard to contain in all these respects, but you are almost always fun to have around.  I love how resilient you are, how the little setbacks of life don’t faze you (as long as nobody tries to mess with your strategies for getting in and out of the car).  You’re a fun guy, Tobin.  I’m fond of you.




It sort of feels like that

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:38 pm

For the first time, Tobin asked a question about the mechanics of how Little Potato is going to enter the world.  I gave a simplified explanation.

T:  Is he attached to a rocket or what?


He doesn’t realize he isn’t helping his case

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:44 pm

A:  Tobin, did you hit your brother?

T:  About a hundred times.


An eternal question

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:12 am

M:  Why isn’t pink called “red-ette”?

Love is blind

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:02 am

Miles took an online colorblindness test (he passed) while also watching one of these videos he’s obsessed with where a woman opens Kinder Surprise Eggs and shows the contents.

M:  I think this one is going to be Shrek.  If not, I’m fairy tale blind.


Monthly Miles Memo #80

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:19 pm

Dear Miles,

After a couple of weeks of ease-in, you’re a full-fledged first grader now.  That means homework every night, more responsibility in keeping track of your personal effects, and a new activity:  piano lessons.  You haven’t actually had a lesson yet, because your teacher had to cancel last week’s due to family illness.  Today will be your true start, and you’re excited.  We picked up your materials last week, and we found out that you’d be learning the song “Everything Is Awesome,” the theme to The Lego Movie.  You’d never seen that movie, so we rented it yesterday, and now you’re really psyched about the song.  You’ve been singing it for the last 18 hours.  I hope piano lessons are a positive experience for you.  We really like your teacher, whom we know from choir, and she comes highly recommended by friends.

You’ve also started swimming lessons.  We meant to get that done over the summer, but we never got registered, so we signed both you and Tobin up for the fall session.  The pool is indoor, so no biggie.  You’re working on your skills, including back floats and the beginnings of the crawl (Crall?) stroke.

Photo by Denny

We had a fun adventure last weekend, when we went to Des Moines to spend time with Nana and Papa and help them celebrate their 40th anniversary.  You enjoyed a trip to the zoo (the playground more than the animals, specifically the climbing wall), playing soccer with Papa, and swimming in the hotel pool.  Your dad and I both noticed how pleasant you were to be around.  You kept a good attitude during sometimes challenging circumstances, you were sweet and cooperative, and we were very proud of your behavior.  You also drew a very flattering portrait of Nana.

Photo by Denny

Art and art history continue to be your favorite topics.  You love drawing portraits, and you made a little picture last night that I think is my favorite one you’ve ever done.  It has really nice movement and interesting use of negative space.  You were excited to tell me that you used a technique you learned about in one of your art books, about drawing a basic skeleton first and then fleshing it out.  Last night you and your dad and Tobes went to the library, and you came back with an armful of books about Leonardo daVinci.  I had always imagined that our first family trip to Europe would be to Spain, but we may need to take you to Florence and Milan to get a glimpse of Leonardo’s world.

We don’t have your school portraits back yet, but I was happy when you lost your second top front tooth so we’ll get that archetypal first grade gap-toothed picture.  You lost a bunch of teeth in a short period of time, but I think you’re on a hiatus now.  You still think you’re going to buy a piranha with your tooth fairy cash.  I’m not sure you fully understand what goes into the care and feeding of a piranha.  You’re going to have to lose a lot more teeth before it because anywhere near practical anyway.

You had your first serious bout of school anxiety the other night.  Overall, you’re doing great—your teacher has given you very good feedback on your behavior, and you’re doing well on your academic tasks, too.  But you came into a situation that really threw you.  Every day, you write on your weekly reflections sheet.  Apparently a lot of students have had trouble keeping track of their sheets, and your teacher said that anyone who lost a sheet would have to miss recess.  On Tuesday night, you broke down in tears because you never got a sheet on Monday and you were afraid to tell the teacher because of the potential consequences.  Your dad and I asked what you did on Monday and Tuesday during the designated time to write on the sheet, and you said you filled in your daily reflection on old worksheets.  I checked them out, and your story held up.  There was an entry on the Monday that had previously been blank due to Labor Day, and the Tuesday blank had two entries in it.

Photo by Denny

I felt so sad for you that you’d been stressing out about it for days.  When your dad and I asked why you didn’t just ask your teacher for the sheet on Monday when you realized you didn’t have it, you said you didn’t think she’d believe you and that she’d think you were just trying to shirk consequences.

I told you a story about something that happened to me in first grade.  I remember it so clearly, because it worried me as much as this reflections worksheet was worrying you.  In my first grade math workbook, there was a page that showed all the different coins, their names, and their values.  That was a data set I had trouble remembering, so I often flipped to that page for reference.  Sometimes I had a hard time finding the right page, so one day I decided to just rip it out so I could keep it handy.

Now, I wasn’t the tidiest of students.  I was always envious of those kids whose desks were organized, with their Lisa Frank pencil boxes and Trapper Keepers that always cleanly shut and sat squarely in their desks, as opposed to the bulging messes I was forever shoving into mine.  You’d think I would have had the self-awareness to realizing ripping out a valuable piece of paper would be a bad idea, but I guess my six-year-old self didn’t think it through.

Of course, I lost the reference page.  I lived the rest of the school year in terror that we’d be assigned that page and I wouldn’t have it.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to just confess, but at the time, it seemed impossible.  That’s why I understand how you felt, Miles.  Your dad and I tried to impress upon you that being honest with your teacher—that you never got the page on Monday, and you were afraid to ask for one now—was the best way to handle the situation.  You didn’t seem convinced, and you were sure you’d have to miss recess.  You don’t even like recess all that much, but the idea of being punished just crushed you.  When I was a first-grader, I couldn’t see past my own fear of having broken the rules and the punishment that was sure to befall me.  We both cried the other night as we talked about our situations.  I didn’t just cry because I was sad that you were sad.  I cried because I knew exactly how you felt, and it’s awful.

It turned out fine for both of us.  You and your dad talked to your teacher before school yesterday, and she replaced your reflections sheet, and you didn’t have to miss recess.  For me, the school year ended with the teacher never assigning the coin reference page.  I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to tell us about your problem, though.  I don’t think I had told anyone the story of the coin reference page until two nights ago with you.  I want you to understand that admitting mistakes is better than living in constant fear of not being perfect.  I want you to always, always know that your dad and I are in your court.

You’re a great kid, Miles.  You’re easy to love most of the time, and even when it’s not easy, I still love you.  I bet your teacher’s pretty fond of you, too.




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