My little Tobin,
You probably learned it from your brother, like so many of the things you know. Around our house, a request or demand often receives a look, the raised-eyebrow look that means “Aren’t you forgetting something? Perhaps something manners-related?” I don’t generally give you the look, since you’re seventeen months old and frankly we’re pretty impressed that you’re talking as much as you are. But you don’t even need any prompting. If you have any doubt about whether we’ll meet your request, you add on a “Peesh?”
It’s awfully difficult to resist. Of course you use it most for things I don’t really want you to have (or have very much of), like juice and my phone.
Your favorite thing to do right now is to grab a pen or marker and start yelling “T-O! T-O-B!” That means you want to write your name. Sometimes you make it all the way to T-O-B-N, though the I never makes it. You can’t write letters yet exactly, but you do seem to understand that each letter is a distinct symbol. You make a squiggle on the paper and say “T,” then another squiggle and you say “O.” You often end up with three or four intentional squiggles before it descends into scribbling.
You’re also working on your colors. Your first guess is always green (“geen”) when I ask you what color something is, though you’re starting to get blue right too. You often surprise me with the words you know. The other day you pointed at a shirt and said, “Whale,” which was in fact the main feature of the shirt.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Sometimes I don’t understand what you’re saying, and I keep guessing things, hoping to get it right. When I do, you say, “Oooooooooh,” in exactly the tone of voice I can hear myself using when I’ve figured something out. When I’m on the wrong track, you do a spot-on imitation of my perplexed “Hmmm.”
We have your adorable baby passport all ready for our big trip, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait for you to see the Caribbean sea, Tobin. Considering how excited you get about a plastic cup of water, I think the shining blue stretching all the way to the horizon is going to amaze you like nothing you’ve ever seen before. We’ve got SPF shirts and sun hats and plenty of sunscreen all ready to cover you, but if you’re really good, you might get to touch the Caribbean with a few square inches of your actual skin.
I was telling your dad yesterday that one thing I love about you is your generally good attitude. You get grumpy sometimes, and you have a hilarious grumpy face that I really need to photograph. But your bad moods are typically acute, not chronic. Once we solve whatever your problem is, you’re back to your jolly self. You love it when your dad tips you upside down. You love giving and receiving blurples (and woe to the person who accidentally exposes some back skin while crouching to help your brother with something). You love washing your hands.
You still love reading. Your favorite book right now is Spot Goes to the Beach. You also really like How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? and Little Bear, Who Do You Love? Your very favorite part of that one is where the little bear loves his brother. You can fill in the blanks of so many books and songs, most adorably the ones your brother and I sing for our choir. There’s not much cuter than a baby singing John Denver.
You have the greatest face. I already mentioned your grumpy face, but you do a fantastic surprised face, and your little gap-toothed smile is so sweet. You understand how to be gentle with babies. You gave your baby cousin Josh such tender touches without any reminders. Your brother isn’t feeling very well tonight, and you came up and stroked his hair and shoulder so nicely.
I was a little worried that you weren’t good at reading emotions, since you seem to have zero remorse for naughty behavior when your dad and I scold you about it. I shouldn’t have been concerned. If anything happens to your brother, like if he hurts himself or is howling for any other reason, you immediately say “Bubby!” in a most concerned tone. Your little brow furrows, and you just get so worried about him. He’s a heavy sleeper, and he must have been having a bad dream a few nights ago, because he cried in his sleep. It woke you up, and you were just so upset on his behalf. Your dad went and checked on him, and he was fine, and we tried to reassure you, but it took a long time to get you to calm down. You kept saying “Bubby! Bubby!” and pointing toward his room.
I’m nervous about trying to keep you occupied on our upcoming plane trips. This is one of the last trips we’ll take when you can still fly free on a parent’s lap, but I have a feeling we’re really going to have to work for it. Maybe we’ll be lucky and you’ll sleep. Maybe we’ll have to buy those mini bottles of whiskey for all the other passengers on the plane.
My list of the words you know is over 120 words long now. You are so smart, so focused, so amazing. As I held you last night, I could hardly believe you’re the same person as that baby I used to hold in one arm.
You have about the same amount of hair as you did then. Otherwise, you’re a whole different dude. You’re a wonderful little guy, and I’m so happy to be getting to know you. Keep up the good work.
Photo by Denny Crall