Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Talkin' About Tobin

Nothing to report in the baby department. No birth, no water breaking, no labor. Nothing. Bummer.

However, since I have no news to share in that area, this gives me a chance to focus again on Tobin and get some things written down about him that I don't want to forget in the hustle and bustle of a new baby!

First, a series of pictures I took one day recently... We were having celery for lunch; and I was, of course, cutting much smaller pieces of it for the boys. For myself, however, I had a long stalk to munch on; and that intrigued Tobin greatly. I gave it to him, curious to see what would happen.

Hmmm, this is a new thing. I've seen Josiah and David eat these green sticks, so I guess I can, too.
Maybe if I do it like this, I can get a bite in my mouth. You watching, Mom?
That didn't work; maybe this is a better way to do it.
I KNOW I can do it SOMEHOW! Let me just see how wide I can open my mouth to get it in.
Rats. I can't do it. Here, Mom, you take it!
And so I did and crunched it happily while my little man went on to eat much smaller, easier things (like the black olives on his highchair tray). Cutie pie!

One thing that happened a while ago with Tobin but which I never jotted down previously is that on Father's Day, he said "dada" A LOT. As we left our church service to go out to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate, Tobin was saying, "dada" and "dadadadadadadadada," more than I've probably ever heard him before. At his stage of life, it's hard to know how much connection he makes between certain sounds and the actual object--for example, he has said "mama," but he doesn't routinely say that when he sees me so how much meaning does he really attach to it?--but what a perfect day on which to practice his "dada"! :)

Now that Tobin has recovered from that horrible diaper rash he had a few weeks ago, he's back to being our little Scooter. When he had the rash, he didn't want to scoot anywhere because of the pain in that area of his body! But now scooting is his primary means of transportation once again. One thing I've noticed is that he likes to scoot on top of stuff. For example, he'll get some books off the shelf to look at, then after a while, scoot on top of one and use that as a seat to scoot around on. When he does that with books, I put an end to it so the book doesn't get ruined. :) But another example is rugs: he likes to scoot on top of them...or shovels in the sandbox...he doesn't seem to mind having something under his little bottom as he scoots around.

As he travels from Point A to Point B, he's definitely a fan of choosing the shortest, most direct path, which is not necessarily the path of least resistance. It's funny to see the wheels turn in his brain, so to speak, as he determines to go somewhere and tries to plow straight through something (toys on the floor, for example) when he could much more easily go around them. That's a cognitive process that he hasn't gotten to in his development yet!

During the diaper rash weeks, we thought he might actually learn to crawl--or even, surprise! walk--because he was so resistant to scooting. He did manage to figure out his own unique style of crawling: two hands on the floor, his right foot on the floor (with the sole on the floor, in a standing position), and his left leg in his typical scooting position (slightly in front of his rear). He crawled a little bit in this position, but it wasn't very efficient so he didn't use it very much. In fact, I haven't spotted him doing that for quite a while now. Even when he did use it, he usually quickly abandoned it in favor of a better way of getting around: sitting down, whimpering, and holding both arms up to be picked up by some compassionate adult. Oh, and having a sweet pitiful face at the same time. It worked like a charm. :) Even when I was tired and overwhelmed and feeling a bit like I was at the end of my rope, the sight of those two little outstretched arms melted my heart. Such a simple gesture, but such an effective way of communicating!

One more thing about him moving: he is getting so much more adept at pulling himself up to standing, and he occasionally cruises (walks a little while holding onto objects--like the bench in our kitchen or the fence by the sheep pasture) although he hasn't really taken off with that. Recently, he has started letting us walk with him by holding onto his hands as he walks. He used to resist that, but now he sometimes really enjoys it. He's definitely advancing, although his timing is "delayed" (according to most children, but perfectly normal for him) and his progress is through small advances. We're not worried though. :)

I mentioned yesterday that Tobin is enchanted by animals, and that's certainly true: animals in real life, animals in books, animals on cups, animals anywhere! Speaking of books, Tobin wasn't such a book fan a few months ago. He would look at them occasionally, but didn't really enjoy looking at them for the long periods of time that I remember his big brothers (especially Josiah) looking at books when they were younger. When we moved Tobin's crib from the nursery into the guest room, I decided to try a new tactic to interest him in books: I put a few books into his crib for him to look at before and after he fell asleep. That strategy seemed to pay off, as well as the strategy of more consistently sitting with him in the rocking chair in his room to read a few books before I tucked him in bed (which, by the way, he didn't always want me to do, but I just told him gently but firmly that it was time to read and he settled down...the books I chose were very short and baby-friendly, of course, so it wasn't like I was forcing him to sit through a reading of Beowulf). :) It wasn't long at all before he was turning into a little bookworm; and now he enjoys his time with books, whether by himself or having someone read to him--especially if the books contain pictures of animals! The book could be about something entirely different; but if there is a picture of a dog or a cat or a sheep or other animal in it, he'll find it. :)

Here is a short video of him looking at a Richard Scarry book with David. In it, you can occasionally hear his "dahkh" word...

And now, the hard stuff. I've mentioned before that one of the most challenging parts of this whole summer has been Tobin and my unease about his adjustment to the new baby and my diminishing ability to quickly meet Tobin's needs. The fact that he was sick for several weeks only added to the hardships--both real and imagined ones, as I tried to picture how life would be as I cared for four children. As his sickness lingered on, it was sometimes hard to know whether he really wasn't feeling well and needed the extra attention/extra cuddle time/extra whatever...or whether he had simply learned to manipulate us to get what he wanted. I'm certain that I didn't always "read" him correctly and didn't always respond properly--one of the challenges of dealing with sickness in pre-verbal children!

One thing I realized and was able to discuss with my good friends Misty and Julie M. one evening, as we got a chance to slip away from our respective families for dinner and some girl talk, is that in our home, Tobin often sets the emotional tone for the family. That's not supposed to be his role. We've all heard many times about how the mother is the emotional thermostat: set her on "happy" and "peaceful," and the rest of the family follows along. But I was finding myself too tied up in Tobin's emotions; and when he became fussy, I became (the adult version of) fussy, too...which then led to short fuses and underlying tensions with and between the older boys. I had to learn (and still have to work on it) to disengage myself from Tobin emotionally--obviously not to the point of not caring about his feelings--but being able to step back and realize that even if he was sad because his little world wasn't revolving around him like he thought it should, it was OK and life would go on (and maybe be better because of it). I could still be calm, even if he wasn't. That's harder than it sounds; and although I've learned to do that with Josiah and David, I'm still working on that with Tobin.

Another thing I talked with Julie and Misty about is how Tobin has been in the "adorable baby" category for so long, and now his "fall" from that position is all the more painful because the timing coincides with a new little sibling. Fortunately, Julie and Misty knew what I meant and were able to identify with this, rather than criticize it. :) With Tobin not walking yet but using his cute scoot to get around, with him not really talking much, with him still being a "young" 18 month-old, he still seems to fall into the baby category; but in reality, he's very much entering the toddler stage. He understands SO MUCH (even when he can't express it verbally), he's as smart as a whip, he's reaching the age of testing boundaries (and being very aware while he's doing it, as evidenced by his sly look over his shoulder when he reaches for something he shouldn't have or goes somewhere that is off-limits). He's beginning to gain an understanding that he is not the center of the universe or even the center of our family, but instead a beloved, extremely important part of it. He's learning patience (or struggling against that concept!) and realizing that just because he wants something RIGHT NOW doesn't mean he's going to get it. In short, he's doing all the normal toddler stuff, learning all the hugely important lessons that a child his age must learn in order to grow up to live a well-adjusted, productive, happy life. It just so happens that he's going through this stage at the end of a pregnancy, and that is a juxtaposition that I've never dealt with before.

Enough heavy stuff! Tobin is undoubtedly a beloved, treasured son; and I know that as he grows and learns, God uses him to teach and refine me into the woman God wants me to be. May I learn these lessons well, and may I not fear the days to come but approach them one day at a time, savoring the moments of togetherness with my sweet Tobin Bear: like watching him scoot in and out of the Thomas the Tank Engine tent today, seeing him peek out at me from the tent flap, "taking pictures" of each other with our old camera, seeing his big grin as I put silly play sunglasses on my face and then put them on him, playing piano with him sitting on my lap and delightedly pressing the keys with me, noticing how he reached for his puppy dog from Jenny Sacra and cuddled with it as soon as I laid him in bed for his morning nap today. These are truly precious moments.


Lisa said...

As usual, I'm checking in to see if there's baby news.;-)

I love reading about baby Tobin. (yes, he's still the baby):-) I still call Annabelle baby belle and she's almost 2 1/2!

I love how you pour your heart out as a mother. Your children are so blessed!

Morning said...

Very sensible and thoughtful ideas, Davene -- I know that we're guilty of allowing Boo to "run" the emotional temperament of the house, especially because he's an only and we do all rather revolve around him (three grandparents on tap, too!)

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Tobin is so lucky to have a mama who wants to take the time to record all these thoughts before a new baby takes over the brain for a few months! I can't wait to hear about the new little one, too!

FlyingCats said...

Where's this baby????? I voted for a girl. Davene, can you please email me your address?

Margie said...

I love this post, Davene. Lots of wisdom in it. It's one of the reasons I love to read your blog. I can learn so much from you. And Tobin, wow, growing up but still such a cute, cute boy. It's been fun watching him mature over this past year that I've been reading your posts.

Jeff Fisher said...

I know that it can be discouraging...but God knows the day, and has designed it special for this little one, and that is the only day we would really want for it to come if we had His understanding. I love you and am proud of you! Our kids could never have a better mother.