It’s been a busy month of various festivities. We’ve had friend parties, school parties, a couple of different trick-or-treating opportunities, and your first piano recital. Life isn’t slowing down any time soon with our upcoming choir concerts, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas and your birthday soon after.
You short-term lucked out with a beautiful night for trick-or-treating. We were talking with a friend at your dad’s office (which held a fun trick-or-treating event), and he and I reminisced about all the awful nights we remembered slogging around our neighborhoods in the rain, or worse, freezing rain. It seems like every Halloween of your life has been a warm night, and it certainly seems like some kind of climate change is at work. That’s why I say your luck was short-term. It might be good for wandering the late-October streets now, but we’ll see how that works out for the next generation. I can’t remember the last time we made it to November without a freeze. My very temperature-sensitive Thai basil is still growing like it’s in the tropics of Southeast Asia. There’s a bell pepper in the garden I keep not picking because I think it’s going to fully ripen. What a world, what a world.
In less bleak news, you had a lot of fun in your Odd Todd costume. Only a handful of people knew who you were, but that made it extra special whens someone recognized you. I can tell I put a lot of hours into trimming felt strips and hot-gluing them onto your blazer and pants, because when I got out felt for you guys to do another art project, Callum saw it and said, “Odd Todd!” You looked great and really relished the role. You got to wear the costume several times for various Halloween festivities as well as costume-optional piano recital. I was so proud of you as you played. We did a dress rehearsal at home to make sure you had the flexibility required to play your piece while wearing your forty-pound jacket (an exaggeration, but there was a lot of felt and glue on there). You did fantastically, and most importantly, you were very proud of yourself. You’re Tara’s featured student for November and December, and in the text accompanying your photo, you said that you look forward to learning really tough songs that sound really cool.
That made me very happy to hear, because I’ve always been afraid that you’ll only want to do things that come easily to you. Maybe piano playing does come easily, but it’s a realm with many opportunities for challenges and growth, and I’m thrilled that you’re willing to push yourself.
You’ve been following the election pretty closely. You’ve been a Hillary fan since the start, so you’re very invested in her success. I know there are many Republicans among your loved ones, so your dad and I do our best to describe various views without demonizing people. More than anything I want you to understand that the future of our nation is not about Democrats versus Republicans—it’s not team sports. It’s about making thoughtful, informed choices about the world we want to help create. I’m so heartened by the many prominent Republicans who have denounced Donald Trump. While I try to be respectful of views different from mine, I can’t in good faith say anything kind about that guy.
The other night, Tobin was worried that Donald Trump would move to our neighborhood. I’m not sure where he got that idea, since anybody who wears a three-piece suit while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair is clearly not too invested in our state. You reassured him that since our friends and neighbors Jane and Linda live across the street, Trump wouldn’t want to live here. That kind of concrete reasoning reassured Tobin and made me smile.
We’ve been working hard at Family Folk Machine to get ready for our concerts next week and the following. As usual, you are nailing your solos in rehearsal, and I’m sure you’ll do just as well when performance time comes. You seem to have no stage fright, and I hope that quality stays with you. It’s funny—you can be so oversensitive when Tobin does anything even slightly annoying, but tasks that would intimidate many adults (singing and playing piano before an audience, choosing an esoteric Halloween costume) don’t faze you at all. You can be inflexible and upset when things don’t follow your idea of how they ought to go, but you can play a mean game of chess. You even beat your dad when you guys played on a recent Dad/Miles Java House date. Your brain doesn’t always work the way a typical person’s might, but it’s still one of the loveliest brains I know.
I’ve been enjoying this eerily warm fall with you, taking time almost every day after school to play outside. You don’t need me to push you on the swings anymore, but I still like sitting on one next to you. I like walking to pick you up from school and lingering, dawdling, and chatting on the walk home. We’ll be bundling up soon enough, so for now, let’s keep crunching leaves and taking turns pushing Callum in the baby swing. You’re a great brother and a great kid.