My dear Tobin,
It’s fall for sure now, and you are a leaf enthusiast. You and your dad are out raking leaves right now in preparation for the suck truck, and yesterday you spent some time gathering leaves into a pile for jumping. I’m not sure if you actually jumped in them, because I was gone when you did it, and they were still in a pile last I checked. You love to collect pretty leaves as we walk to get Miles from school, and you were so happy when your favorite tree in our yard turned yellow again that you went up and hugged it.
While your general personality is still cheerful and high-energy, you’ve had a few bouts of difficult-to-understand moodiness lately. Sometimes we’ll all laugh at something funny you said, not at your expense but just because you’re cute, and you’ll get really angry. You say you don’t like it when people laugh at you. I’m very sorry we hurt your feelings. We need to help you understand the difference between appreciative laughter and malicious laughter. You’re a smart, witty, fun kid who deserves to thrive, and we want to support you in that.
You’ve taken an interest in reading, and you can now get through Hop on Pop pretty well all by yourself. You’re extremely proud of this new development, and Callum knows that Hop on Pop is your special book. He brought it to me today, and I thought he wanted me to read it to him. No, he just said “Toto!” and went on his way.
You’re growing a lot, and even though playground and soccer season is coming to an end, you and Miles have broken out the Charles Atlas book and have been doing calisthenics in your room. Your squats are really more like arm swings at this point, but it’s pretty cute to watch you guys jump around in your underpants. You’re starting another round of swim lessons this week, so that will be good for your long-term development and short-term energy burning.
Our recent mini-vacation to St. Louis was a big hit. You went crazy for the City Museum, which was pretty much invented with you in mind. You scrambled through tunnels, climbed ladders, and made a new friend in the ball pit. You also loved the fact that your bedroom in our rental townhouse had its own wall-mounted TV. That’s something we don’t do at home (not that you’re suffering from a scarcity of screen time), so it seemed pretty exotic to watch cartoons while lying in bed.
At the St. Louis Zoo, you especially loved the lions. We got to touch the skin from a real lion’s head. The lion had died of natural causes at an old age evidenced by the grey in its mane. You stood for a long time and watched the skinny male lion and the robust female lion. We learned from the zoo employee that their size difference is due to the fact that the male is so devoted to the female that he gives her almost all the food. That reminded me a little of you—I can always count on you to share with Callum, often without me even having to ask. You’re lion-like in a lot of ways. I’m no astrology proponent, but I believe you’re a Leo, and you certainly have a glorious golden mane. You can roar pretty loudly, too.
You have a tender little heart. Recently we went out to eat at a long-time family favorite restaurant, Mekong. As soon as we got there, we could tell something was different–they had changed the decor significantly, and the menu was one photocopied page instead of the usual folding book of Vietnamese, Thai, and other southeast Asian choices. We learned that it had changed ownership, and while you and Miles still got to order your favorite beef and snow peas (which you said was good), my old favorite Vietnamese chicken with sweet basil was no longer available. You got sad and grumpy during dinner, and I couldn’t figure out why, until finally I coaxed it out of you: you were worried about me because I couldn’t have my special dish anymore. Poor little guy. I assured you that I’d try to learn to make it at home. It will be a fun project for us to try to figure it out together.
Your current favorites: Pokémon Go, the Hulk, Lara Bars, pumpkin bars, everything Halloween, trips to Costco, helping your dad rake leaves (and jumping in the piles), and squishing yourself into the little-kid seat on the double stroller.
Keep smiling, my little cub. I love you like a lion loves a T-bone steak.