My sweet, sparkling Tobin,
You’re four, you’re truly four! After what felt like an excruciatingly long wait, your birthday finally came around. We celebrated first with Nana and Papa at the family reunion, then at Mubby and Skitter’s house, then with an immediate family party on your real birthday, and then with a friends party in the back yard. Your dad and I are still recovering.
You’ll start preschool at Hoover next week. Every time we drive by (which is often as it’s near the intersection of a couple of main thoroughfares in our area), you yell, “Hi, Hoover!” We went to visit your classroom and meet your teacher; we accomplished one of those goals. The room is bright and cheerful and should be a fun place to play and learn. The teacher is MIA. Well, not exactly—with all the shuffling around in the district, she made a last-minute switch to a kindergarten teaching position. They’re hoping to hire someone soon. Luckily, you’re the kind of kid who can handle a little unpredictability. You don’t seem nervous at all.
You’ve been a little grumpy the last few days having your brother back at school, but you’ve also been enjoyed being the Boss Brother. You take very good care of Callum when I need you to entertain him for a couple of minutes. You take joy in helping him discover new foods. I had to drag both of you with me to a doctor’s appointment this morning, and you very kindly let him play (and even chew on) one of the Batman toys you brought.
We’ve had a tiring but fun summer together. We spent a lot of time at the library, had our share of Flavor Ice and frozen yogurt, played with digger toys in the dirt, and all kinds of other things. It’s been a mild summer, mostly, so we’ve gotten to be outside a lot.
You asked me the other day, “Can I jump out of an airplane with a parachute?” I shouldn’t have been surprised that you asked. You enjoy a good adventure, and your dad is engaged in a never-ending battle with you over jumping from the couch to the futon and back. My answer to you: “Not today.” I hope never, because that sounds truly awful to me, but trying to force people from doing what they want hardly ever works.
You’ve grown so much this year, both physically and intellectually. In the family portraits we took last fall, your shorts looked comically like those capri pants European men wear. Why those guys wear their swim trunks so tiny and their shorts so long is a mystery to me. In any case, those shorts hit you right in the above-the-knee sweet spot now. You can write your name, know all the letters of the alphabet (thanks largely to many, many games of Alphabet Go Fish this summer), and have a great imagination. You can play for a long time with your Imaginext characters and playsets, coming up with adventures for Batman, the Joker, the space characters, and the knights.
Photo by Gary Clarke
I am most proud, though, of your kindness. Last night, I was getting tired and grumpy as I often do as I scramble to get dinner ready. Something happened and a shoe fell off the trunk and landed on my foot, which hurt. I yelped about it briefly, then got over it and continued making dinner. Later, after dinner, as your dad was getting you ready to go outside and play, you asked me, “Is your foot feeling better?” I had completely forgotten about it, but you didn’t, and you wanted to check in with me. That’s the kind of kid you are. You often ask me how I slept the previous night or how I’m feeling.
Your friend Ben’s dad mentioned the same thing the other night—how you have the unusual characteristic of often checking on how Ben is doing. It’s not something a lot of kids do, and let me tell you, there is nothing that makes a mommy’s heart warmer than hearing that her little guy is caring toward others. There’s a lot of self-centeredness among our fellow human beings, and that’s not necessarily bad. Kids especially are naturally oblivious to the issues of others, and it takes some effort for most of us to snap out of our own perspectives and feel empathy and sympathy. You seem to have a head start in that arena.
This isn’t to say your E.Q. is 100% yet. You still do a lot of the typical little kid things, like goofing around when your dad and I have asked you multiple times to put on your shoes. You can torture your brother like no one else. I guess that’s the flip side of being aware of others’ feelings: you can use that knowledge to your own advantage when it comes to pushing his buttons. Sometimes you are, as I like to say, a little guano.
Photo by Denny
You’re still my number one source of laughter and funny quotes. Your brain comes up with observations that seem perfectly logical to you (like how the best way to stop smoking is to take off one’s mouth). You love the stories your dad tells you about “Tobin Crall, the Friendship Street detective, with a keen mind and a sharp eye.” You laugh and laugh when he tells them to you, including a few that have risen to the top as favorites and you request to hear over and over.
Your other favorites: Scooby Doo, pepperoni pizza, SnaPeas, Batman, Pokemon, checking on the garden’s developments with me, helping grownups with all kinds of tasks (dinner preparation, sidewalk sweeping, fish-feeding…pretty much everything except cleaning up your toys).
Photo by Denny
Here’s to a wonderful year of being four, my sweet Tobin. My life is so much better because you’re in it.