The Tobin Times #55

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:38 pm

My special Tobin,

We’ve had quite a month.  The biggest event was, of course, our spring break trip to the Florida Keys.  We went back to our favorite spot:  Key Colony Beach on Marathon Key.  It was truly a wonderful trip.  We didn’t actually do very much—we got together with a couple of different sets of cousins, so that was fun, but mostly we just rotated between the ocean, the pool, and the condo.

Because it wouldn’t be a month with a vowel in it without you giving me a near heart attack, you did try to go into the pool with no water wings once.  You’ve been improving in your swimming lessons, but you’re still not quite ready to be in over your head with no flotation device.  I was standing on the edge of the pool, Callum in my arms, and you and Miles got in.  You just walked right in past the shallow zone.  Luckily Miles was able to haul you back, so I didn’t have to either set Callum down to go in for you or drag him in too.

After that, I was a lot more careful to make sure you had your water wings on at all water-adjacent times.  You jumped off the edge of the pool over and over, shouting “One, two, two and a half, three!” each time.  Some fellow condo dwellers got a real kick out of you and said, “Hey, there’s Two-and-a-Half” when they saw you around the complex.

You did a good job on our travels, despite a brief spell of motion sickness on our way back to the airport on the very last day.  Otherwise, it was all smooth.  An iPad with Minecraft can keep you entertained for a long time.  You and your dad and Miles did a lot of iPad checkers, too, during our middle-of-the-day resting hours.

Despite our attempts to keep you out of the peak sun hours, you did get a slight sunburn on your cheeks on our first day.  The cloud cover tricked us, and you ended up a little pink.  It seems to have healed up, though, and your freckles are showing through.

We decided on Kinderfarm as your destination for next year.  You’ll start mid-summer with a two-mornings-per-week schedule, and a friend from your class this year will also be attending during that session.  She’ll be heading off to kindergarten in the fall, but I’m hoping that having a friend there will help you get started, and you’ll make an easy transition into the fall schedule even after she leaves.  I’m not too concerned, really.  You loved Kinderfarm when we visited, describing it as “awesome.”  You make friends easily and do a good job transitioning to new situations, so I’m sure it will be great.

You still get frustrated sometimes, and you’ve been pulling the “That’s not fair” argument.  Your dad and I have been trying to emphasize the “life isn’t fair” perspective (it’s amazing how easily one slips into the parent tropes), and I’ve reminded you that in the grand scheme, being a middle class white male American is very much not fair and very much to your advantage.  That’s hard for you to see sometimes, especially when Miles gets to do something you don’t.  Maybe that will get easier once Callum starts wanting to do things you’re allowed to do but he isn’t.  Then we’ll have his wrath to deal with.  Please help.

Mostly, though, you maintain your sunny attitude.  Your bad moods never last long.  You’re not a moper, thank goodness.  You can be in tears one moment and trotting down the hallway singing the next.  You still like to snuggle and have assured me that you’ll do all your education locally so you can always be my cuddly little guy.  I won’t hold you to that, but I admit I won’t be disappointed if it’s the case.

You’re smart and spunky and hilarious.  You’ve been saying zinger after zinger lately, and it’s all I can do to get them written down before you say another one.  You’re open-hearted and kind, and I’m lucky to have a little guy like you.




Recent Tobinismos

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:59 pm

We’ve been talking about the signs of spring. Tobin is getting very excited about it.

T: That tree has buds on it!
A: It sure does. That must mean spring is coming.
T: Those are kind of a private area for trees.
A: Oh?
T: Because it rhymes with (whispering) butts.

The topic of crushes has come up in our house due to the Harry Potter/Cho Chang tension.

Tobin: I have a crush on [redacted].
Aprille: Oh yeah? I have a crush on your dad.
Tobin: You DO? Does he KNOW?

Tobin: Why do we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?
Denny: Because St. Patrick was from Ireland, and it’s really green there. The Emerald Isle. They say he drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Tobin: (after puzzling for a moment) How did he get them in his car?
Denny: …
Tobin: You said he DROVE them.

We’re waiting on Miles to get moving so we can go out for breakfast.
A: Is Miles up yet?
T: Yes, but I’m sorry to say, only figuratively.


The Callum Chronicle #14

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:34 pm

Dear Callum,

Yesterday I was at Miles’s school taking photos for the yearbook, and a group of fifth-grade girls started cooing over you.  That’s nothing new—you’re very coo-worthy.  But you enjoyed the attention as usual, and as usual, you were pretty well behaved as I carted you around the school getting my work done.  The girls asked what your name is, and when I told them, their eyes grew wide and they got sly, approving smiles on their faces.  Apparently there’s some teen heartthrob named Callum.  We didn’t realize that when we named you, but you make my heart throb, so I guess it’s okay.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You made my entire body throb with exhaustion over the last couple of weeks, because you’ve been sick yet again.  I don’t know if it’s all the germs your brothers bring home from school, or your bad habit of putting communal toys in your mouth in public play areas, or the fact that you were a c-section birth and didn’t get exposed to all the helpful bacteria you were supposed to.  Maybe it’s a combination of all those, but it seems like you’ve been sick as much as you’ve been healthy in your short life.  Fortunately you’ve never had anything seriously wrong.  You’ve never even been on antibiotics, save for the course you got shortly after birth for some reason or another.

You had a goopy eye situation, and I took you to the clinic to have it looked at.  The PA there said that he could prescribe you antibiotic eyedrops, but that they weren’t really necessary and the infection would clear up on its own.  I decided to keep dribbling breastmilk into your eyes and wait it out.  That seemed to do the trick, because your eyes look great now.  You also had a very stuffy nose, which made sleeping difficult for you (and me and your dad).  Your dad spent many hours semi-sleeping with you in the recliner, which helped you a little by keeping your head elevated.  Thankfully, you’re breathing much better now.  You still have a phlegmy cough, but your spirits are back up, and at least your nose is working.

The weather has been all over the place here, with snow and 70-degree temperatures in the same 30-day period.  It’s been great getting out side more often.  I really miss our morning walks, so I’ve enjoyed doing a couple of those again.  You seem happy outside most of the time.  In just a few days we’re heading to the beach, and you’ll get to experience your first time splashing in the ocean and playing the sand.  I let you walk around outside barefoot a little bit yesterday, and you seemed surprised by the sensation.  Sand is going to be even weirder, trust me.  Just remember not to eat it.

You’re still in a clingy stage and you’re still pretty mama-centric, but you’ve been doing some good branching out too.  Your vocabulary includes “Dada” and “Doh” (Tobin), and you love to look out the window for your dad as he approaches from the bus stop in the afternoon.  I can’t even hold you up to that window any other time, because you immediately crane your neck to find your dad, saying “Dada” over and over.  I don’t like to torture you, so I try to limit that position to when your dad is actually on his way.

You also say “Doh” when we’re outside Tobin’s school, and he’s someone who’s really special to you.  You love Miles too, but you haven’t mastered his name yet.  Don’t worry; it took him a while to get it too.  You haven’t made any consistent attempt at saying “Callum” yet either.  Maybe you’re self-conscious about the teen heartthrob comparison.

Your current favorites:  blueberries, crusts from Tobin’s peanut butter toast, drinking out of your cup with a straw, any kind of music or rhythmic sound (the slightest suggestion of music still makes you dance), and walking long distances.  You’re really a walking champ now, and you barely crawl at all.  You really, really wanted to help make your dad’s birthday cupcakes the other day.  You climbed up onto the stepstool Tobin had gotten out, and Tobin did a very good job keeping you from tumbling to your doom.  You did a pretty good job on the cupcake last night, too.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You have a great face full of wonderful expressions.  You’re funny and silly and usually in a good mood.  You’re a delight in so many ways, and I can’t wait for you to be my little beach boy.




Monthly Miles Memo #98

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:29 pm

Hey there, Mr. Miles,

We’ve known since you were just a few months old that your personality tends toward the shy and sensitive.  New things are difficult for you, and you’re easily overwhelmed.  That’s why I was so happy and proud when you did two things recently that showed great growth in that area.

The first time we went to your school carnival, when you were in kindergarten, it was a borderline disaster.  The crowds and noises and general chaos sent you into a panic.  You broke down into tears and refused to try any of the games.  That made me annoyed in part because we’d spent the money on the tickets and also because I was afraid you would never get to enjoy a lot of fun things in life due to fear and inflexibility.  Your dad ended up taking you to play on the playground, and when the night was nearly over, I coaxed you in and you tried a couple of very low-stakes games.  Last year was a little better, but it was still about an equal ratio of fun to pain.

This year was a completely different story.  You anticipated the carnival for weeks before it arrived.  Your teacher gave you a map of where each game would be in the school (a smart move on his part:  if we’d had a chance to explain to you what to expect in detail in the past, it might have gone better).  You picked out the games you were most looking forward to playing.

The night came, and it was a huge success.  You were proud of the fancy cake we designed together for the cake auction.  You burned through your tickets so fast I had to buy another batch.  You had fun on the simple, cerebral, and rough-and-tumble games alike.  You were thrilled when you won (especially the cake walk), but you kept a good attitude when you lost.  It was exactly how a carnival night is supposed to be.

I know you had a blast, but I don’t think you know how much it meant to me to see you have a blast.  Some day you’ll have a kid who has his/her own struggles, and some day you’ll know the surge of joy a parent feels when that kid triumphs.  It might not seem like a big deal—having fun at a carnival night is pretty much the default for many kids—but it’s a big accomplishment for you.  Congratulations on your cake, but congratulations on a lot more, too.

Photo by Gary Clarke

The second achievement was at Family Folk Machine yesterday.  You’ve been doing solos in our concerts for years now, and stage fright doesn’t seem to be an issue for you.  One thing you’ve never done, though, is had the guts to volunteer for the solo yourself.  In the past, it’s always been something we’ve talked about privately, then I’d email or talk to our director on your behalf.  I don’t know why it’s harder for you to raise your hand when she asks who’d like to do a solo than it is to actually sing the solo in front of hundreds of people, but that’s your way.

Yesterday, during kids’ rehearsal time, I was sitting around chatting with another parent.  I was half paying attention when Jean asked who’d like to do a solo, and I didn’t see you volunteer.  I hadn’t had a chance to talk to you or her about it, so I  mentally shrugged and figured you just wouldn’t do a solo this time around.  But you must have volunteered without me noticing, because a few minutes later, I saw you confidently walk up to the mic and sing a verse from one of the kids’ songs.  I could tell from the huge smile you shot across the room to me that you were proud of yourself.

This is not to say that every day is full of growth and accomplishment.  Sometimes you still have trouble with your ongoing issues:  flexibility and nuance are tough areas for you.  Sometimes you get an idea of how something ought to go, and if things turn out differently, you can’t move past it.  The other night, your dad asked you to help clean up the basement before you played any Wii.  You decided to pick up the alphabet blocks.  A few of them were missing (much more likely due to Callum than you), and even though your dad tried to explain to you that it was okay, you wigged out.  He told me later that you were ready to tear up the house looking for the blocks.  You just couldn’t handle the idea of the block box not being full and not completing your task.  I wish you were that goal-oriented about getting your shoes and jacket on in the morning.

On the other hand, you did something good the other day.  You and Tobin were playing chess, which is a new hobby of yours.  You’re a much more advanced chess player than Tobin—you’re still a novice, but he’s an ultra-novice—and playing with him can be a frustrating experience.  I overheard an interaction not go well.  He wasn’t listening to your instructions, and I could tell you were on the verge of losing it.

Instead of freaking out, you got up, went to your room, and cooled off.  I’m so glad you found a coping mechanism.  I get overwhelmed too sometimes, and time alone is the only thing that will get me back into the right mental space.  After you had some time to yourself, you were able to get under control and rejoin the family.  I’m especially proud that you did this all on your own, without it descending into yelling on anyone’s part.

Well, geez.  Now that I look back on it, it’s been a big month, hasn’t it?  Eight seems to be suiting you well.

We leave for our spring break in the Florida Keys this weekend, and I’m looking forward to a relaxed, low-stress week with you and the rest of my guys.  There’s nothing better to me than the beach with my babies.  We’ll be sure to take lots of pictures, eat lots of popsicles, and read a whole chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix every night, even if it’s twenty-four pages and it’s getting to be past bedtime.  We get a little wild on vacation.

Photo by Gary Clarke



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