The Tobin Times #76

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:13 pm

Dear Tobin,

The major themes of this month in your life have been Star Wars and reading.  Not surprisingly, in a world rife with product tie-ins, you’ve had a chance to combine those interests as well.

I think you got the Star Wars bug from a school friend with whom you had a play date.  Ever since you got home from his house that afternoon, you’ve been wanting to play with light sabers, watch the movies, and discuss details of the Star Wars universe.  I’m afraid I’m not much help in those conversations, since it’s been years (decades) since I’ve seen most of those movies.  I also admit that when we’ve been watching them lately, my attention has drifted.  I like science fiction pretty well, but Star Wars has never grabbed me by the brain like it has many others.  Still, I’m glad you’re enjoying it, and I’ll do my best to keep up.

The other major accomplishment of the month, reading, has been a big deal.  You’re making big strides in both sight words and sounding words out.  We definitely can’t spell words as a method of hiding information from you anymore.  You love being on the big people’s team, so this development has made you very happy.

Speaking of being on the big people’s team, thanks to a blabby kindergartner, we had to have a frank Santa Claus conversation.  Now, we’re not huge Santa people.  We do the cookies and milk on Christmas Eve and give the line that he brought you kids a few gifts, but on a scale of one to ten on Santafication (not sanctification), I’d put us at about a three.  We’ve never taken you guys to the mall and made you sit on a stranger’s lap, because I never liked doing that as a kid, and the mall sucks all the holiday spirit out of me.  We try to keep the gifts from Santa modest, after I read an eye-opening article about how kids compare notes, and it must feel pretty awful for some kids to think Santa was way more generous to their peers from more financially stable families.  We’ve never used Santa or that Elf on a Shelf tomfoolery to bribe/threaten you into good behavior.

So anyway, I’ve made it a practice to not to flat-out lie to you kids.  When you point-blank asked me if Santa was real, I pulled out the explanation I had been planning to use on Miles (though he never actually asked; I assume he’s figured it out, but I’m scared to delve too deeply).  There are two parts to Santa:  the little people’s side, when you think Santa brings the presents, and the big people’s side, when it’s our job to make Christmas really fun for little kids.  I tried to present it in a conspiratorial and giddy fashion, and it must have worked, because you are thoroughly invested in being part of the grownup team and making it wonderful for Callum.  You wanted to help wrap gifts in the special Santa paper, help write the recipient’s initials in the swirly Santa handwriting, and you’d love stay up late to stuff stockings with me on Christmas Eve.  When you suggested that, I reminded you that you are still getting a stocking and Santa gifts too, so you’d better maintain the surprise.  You were okay with that.

We’ve been doing lots of other things in preparation for the holidays, including making gingerbread people cookies.  You enjoyed decorating them more than eating them, but the rest of the family liked them.  You brought a retelling of the Gingerbread Man story home from the school library, and Callum loved listening to it with you.  When you had to return it, you were worried he would be sad, so we ordered one for him as a special gift just from you.  You eased the pain by bringing home a different version of the same story the next week.

All of this makes it sound like you are a one hundred percent loving, patient, and caring brother.  This would be false.  Much as I try not to lie to you kids, I don’t want to lie to posterity in this blog either.  You and Callum and Miles all have plenty of moments of impatience and hostility.  Sometimes you forget that arguing with a toddler is utterly futile, and you get so mad when he won’t accept your explanations or admit that you’re right.  Still, I think you have a profoundly kind heart, and once you get through the struggles of being a growing kid, your brotherly relationships will stabilize.  Your general behavior has improved somewhat.  Just a month or two I was about ready to sell you to a traveling circus.  Now things have been going better.  You’re still outrageously high-energy—I told your dad at dinner last night that once Callum is ready to stop using his high chair, we should strap you into it, because your high chair days were the last time you sat through an entire meal.  You just can’t keep your energy under control.

That level of energy can be exhausting for your dad and me, but with it comes the sunshine.  Your default expression is a smile, and you bounce back easily from all the little torments of life.  I wish you would listen better when we ask you to perform basic tasks, though.  Maybe those Elf on a Shelf people have a point.

Merry Christmas and happy six years and four months, my little Tobes.



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