Tobin, Tobin, Tobin,
I bet if I used the search tool on this website to look for the term “Jekyll/Hyde” I’d have more than one hit. You’re not the first four-year-old to cause stress in this family, and you’re not the last. It seems like every night, your dad and I end up struggling to control our tempers (or even sometimes losing them—sorry, kid; we’re not perfect). I know it’s hard when it seems like everything we do is for Miles: going to summer classes, taking him to playdates, piano lessons, watching Harry Potter movies. We try to do things that are special for you, too, like tee-ball and pizza dinners. I’m sure from your perspective, though, it seems like the things we do are never Tobin-focused.
You still don’t have to shout so much, though. You shout a lot. You can be uncooperative and disinclined to listen to polite requests, which inevitably leads to your dad and me yelling at you. I hate that, he hates that, you hate that. And yet, it keeps happening. I don’t want to yell at you, Tobin, but I also want you to stop jumping on the couch.
Other times you’re so kind and sweet. I always think of Miles as being more sensitive and you being more happy-go-lucky, but you have a real tender side as well. We had a hang-out evening with some friends last night, and it involved a change of venue because the little girl in the family had been to the ER that morning. She’s fine, but her mom understandably didn’t want to take her out to City Park on a hot, humid night and let her get jerked around by mid-century carnival rides. I was explaining to you why we weren’t going to be able to do the rides that night, and you said, “Stop talking about that. It makes me sad.” I thought you meant missing out on the rides (which we’ll do another time soon, I promise), but it soon became clear that it upset you to think about your friend being unresponsive. I’m proud that you care more about people than carnival rides.
Your tee-ball season has started off well. You’re in a league of very-beginners, coached by your dad again because, again, no other parent volunteered to do it. I was hoping your dad wouldn’t be a coach this time, because your practices are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Thursdays are especially tiring and busy days for me. I was looking forward to him taking all you boys to your practices so I could have some decompression time. But when no one else volunteered, I gave him the go-ahead to coach. Even though I’m pretty tired (and often crabby) by the end of the night on Thursday, it’s better than not having a coach for you and your little tee-ball pals. You had your first game last week, and you did a great job. You had two excellent hits and did some good fielding too. You’re pretty proud to be one of the Mercer White Sox.
You’ll start a couple of days a week at Kinderfarm next month, but as of now, we’ve been doing around the house and around town activities. Your favorite thing to do is watch YouTube videos of people playing with toys or playing video games. I have no idea why those are so interesting to you, but you would do it all day if I let you. I do not let you. We try to get out every day and do something, whether it’s a walk to the Flavor Ice stand or a trip downtown to the library or Natural History Museum. We haven’t made it into the downtown fountain yet, but I know you will show Callum a great time once we get that done. You two are water enthusiasts.
You had a playdate last week with a preschool friend. That was pretty exciting for you, because Miles has done more playdates lately than you have. You were so proud to have Grant come over. You guys did a great job playing Legos and superheroes together. I remarked to your dad that I think you and Miles have reached the stage where playdates make my life easier, not harder. Before, when you required constant supervision, it was just additional childcare. Now, you can play creatively and with only occasional check-ins and fudge pop distribution.
Even though night is still prime meltdown time for you, you love your bedtime stories. Our usual pattern is that I get Callum to sleep while your dad reads you one or two stories, then he takes Cal and I read you another before lights out. Last night, your dad and I were doing the hand-off when you came crawling—you were literally crawling on the floor; I don’t know why—in and begged your dad to keep reading to you. I agreed to keep the baby for a while longer on the condition that it would be lights-out time when I got to you. Your dad seemed skeptical that you would be able to handle this adjustment to routine, and it’s true that you fought me on it, but I held firm.
I think it’s important to follow through on commitments. I want you to know that when I say something, I mean it, and that threats are not empty. I’m certainly guilty of the occasional empty threat, but I figure as long as you have a solid understanding that I’m willing to make good on them, you’ll get the point. The flip side of that is that I will keep my promises to you. Miles and your dad are going to a Cedar Rapids Kernels game together later this week. The last time you went, it was pretty boring for you, so they decided to go just the two of them. I promised you we could eat at Arby’s for a special date. I am not a huge Arby’s fan, but you are, so that’s what we’re doing. In the spirit of a story from your newly rediscovered Robert Munsch collection, a promise is a promise.
I promise you’ll still get bedtime stories whether you’re Jekyll or Hyde. Now will you please stop jumping on the couch?