Tobi’s Literalism’s & Other Tobi Stuff


May 10

We’re in Branson, MO enjoying some family time thanks to some close friends of ours who gave us a week in their beautiful vacation property here.  I attempted to play some Wii with Tobi – flying I think it was.  I didn’t know how to play so he was giving me instructions.  There were obstacles in the air and one was a blimp.  While flying towards the blimp he shouted, “Don’t run into the pudge!”.  I couldn’t finish I was laughing so hard.


December 17

This evening we were just sort of hanging out.  We were officially on Christmas vacation.  Played a game of Skip-Bo.  Tanika is here as is her friend Eli was visiting (they are both here for Christmas from their respective universities in the US).  I don’t even remember how it came up, but Tobi and I arm wrestled.  At my suggestion.  I don’t remember that last time we had a match but I completely expected to win.  I was just wanting to kind of gauge his strength these days, to see how quickly I could put him down.  Oh my.   We started at the table.  He won.  I was pretty sure it was because of how we were sitting – kind of around the corner instead of facing each other.  So I suggested a rematch for a better angle.  Defeated again.  Time now to be serious.  I just wasn’t prepared for him to be stronger than me yet.  I thought he had to be taller first.  So we got serious and laid down on the living room floor by the Christmas tree – facing each other directly.  It was a challenge for him but he put me down fair and square.  The funny part was in his extreme excitement he jumped up and started running through the house – “I beat Mom!  I beat Mom!”  Then we hear Neal from our curtained off office say, “Who’s that running around screaming like a girl?”  Indeed my recently buff 12 year old sounded like a girl – the voice thing hasn’t happened yet.  And I’m in no hurry!

 November 23

Tobi is known for his linear way of thinking.  Thus the title of this page.  The older he gets, the less he verbally expresses his literalness.  But I can still see his wheels turning.  This past Monday the plan was for Grandpa to pick up Neal and Tobi to go and see the progress on the well being dug at our primary school land.  We were having lunch and Neal commented, “Well, Grandpa should be rolling up any minute now.”  Tobi burst into spontaneous laughter.  It took me just a second to realize what was so funny.  I knew it wasn’t the stuffed zucchini we were eating.  Although he knew it wasn’t reality, the first thing Tobi pictured in his head was Grandpa rolling up to our gate – literally.  At that thought, I had to laugh too!

Tobi and Grandpa – 2 peas in a pod (not literally)

November 22

We’ve always ‘put our kids to bed’ when they were younger.  This involved going to their respective rooms, possibly talking if the opportunity arose, praying, hugging and kissing goodnight.  When they were very young, it also included a song.  This ritual has lasted the longest with Tobi.  This boy was so committed to this routine that there were some nights that he would go to bed and I’d tell him I’d be right there – then I’d forget about him.  Half an hour later I’d remember and go to his room, expecting him to be asleep.  I’d ask if he was still awake and he’d say, “What took you so long?  I’ve been laying here trying to stay awake!” Indeed he was.    It’s only in the last couple of months that he has gotten used to putting himself to bed.  And we’re the ones that sort of weaned him.  We’d read and pray in our office/family room, then hug goodnight.  At first he’d say ‘aren’t you going to put me to bed?’  We’d let him know he could do that on his own.   Then the next night either Neal or I would ‘put him to bed’.  Next night, on his own.  You get the picture.  Wasn’t too long he was doing bedtime on his own.  Well, on the same Sunday we had our entertaining puberty discussion, he went to bed as was his new custom.  Said goodnight and off he went.  I remembered that I had to check something for his school the next day so went to his room.  We had already prayed and said goodnight.  He commented, “Mom, it’s been a long time since you’ve put me to bed.  I almost forgot about that since this is how we do it now.”  So I assured him that he would never be too old for me to tuck him in.  He said he knew that, and did I want to tuck him in now.  I said sure.  So I leaned over to hug him and he said, “No, you gotta pray.”  I reminded him that we had already prayed.  “Well pray again.”  Can do.  I sat down and started to pray.  “No, not like that.  You have to lean over me” (as he demonstrated how I apparently sit as I pray).  So I assumed the right position, prayed again, hugged again, and turned off the light.  I’m certainly not wanting to prevent this boy from growing up, but I’ll take what I can get!

The thing that was so precious about this time, was that it took place on the same day that we talked about growing up.  Tobi is so excited about that and what’s ahead and can hardly wait to be big like his brother.  I’m excited for him, but I think I’m also ‘mourning’ his childhood a bit.  Don’t fault me -he is my last.  So I think that this was God reassuring me — he’ll never be too old to be tucked in.


November 19 The ‘Talk’.

Just gotta love this kid.  So yesterday he comes into my room to show me his 2nd pimple ever.  Yep, there it was, all red and shiny, right on his nose, worn like a badge of honor.  We’ve been talking about how much he’s eating, sleeping and therefore growing.  So I said, “Well, that’s a sign that you are headed straight into puberty”.  Tobi has no problems talking about puberty though he laughs every time it’s mentioned because he thinks it’s a funny word.  He thinks it should be pronounced ‘puh-berty’.  Anyway, I decided this would be a good time to delve into some puberty-ish details.  I stopped what I was doing and he was all ears.  Now I hesitate on some levels to write this because of the potential of embarrassing him later, but I can’t resist.  I won’t include our entire discussion but I don’t want to forget these details and I know myself.  No matter how priceless and unforgettable this is, I will forget.

So.  We began discussing the changes that go on physically with boys and girls.  That for boys, they normally start between 9 & 15 years.  “YYYEESSSS” was his reply.  Tobi is a very ‘by the book’ kind of guy, so it thrilled him to know he is on target.  For the record, he is currently 12 years and 8 months old.  He is 5 feet tall and weighs 94 pounds.   Of course he already knows about the birds and the bees, but this has become personal.  Something he can relate to and take ownership of.  When I mentioned hair under the arms he made it clear that he knew that, and that in fact he had been checking and discovered some of his very own.  Then he says, ‘Ya wanna see?’.  Stifling a laugh (a guffaw really) I told him sure, I’d like to see.  He lifts up his arm – nothing.  I can’t see a thing.  So we go to the window – maybe more light would help.  Nope. He assures me it’s there.  Then I remember I have a magnifying glass handily in my desk drawer (perhaps the fault is mine – I’m needing that magnifying glass more often than I’d like to admit, hence it’s in close proximity to my desk).  So out it comes and by the time I have it poised on his pit, we’re both about to fall on the floor with laughter.  I’m pretty sure I spotted a strand or 2.  Or so I said.

Back to our discussion.  We talked about the importance of eating well during this time of growth, getting good sleep and keeping clean.  He informed me that not only does he put on deodorant every morning, he also adds a squirt of cologne.  Cleanliness has never been an issue with this kid.  We talked some about the physical differences between girls and boys (both obvious and hidden), and how boys start getting bigger muscles.  This elicited another ‘YYYEESSSS!’ and yet another inspection.  This time though, no magnifying glass was needed.  He asked if he was going to get a big chest like Trae (his big bro).  I got the same response when we talked about his voice changing.

We began talking about how babies develop and that conception is when the sperm cell and egg cell join.  That’s the beginning of the baby.  That started a discussion about abortion and how it’s legal to remove a baby from his mother even up to 6 months.  He made the connection that that’s when he was born.  Tobi was premature – born at 6 months.  He simply said ‘So I wouldn’t have been’.  And I replied, ‘That would have been a great loss – not just for us and for all the lives you bless, but a loss for the world.”  He said, “So all those babies…they could have been things.  They could have been a president…”  I think he gets it.  We both decided that we’d save the baby developing in the womb for another discussion as that was getting a bit off topic.

I was reading from a good website I had found to facilitate our discussion.  It got to a part about how this time can be confusing and you might feel and do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  I added – ‘you could be cranky’.  He said, “I’m not cranky, am I?”   “No Tobes, you’re not”.  “I didn’t think so”, was his reply.  I think he was just verifying.  Then it mentioned how important it was to talk to someone if you had questions or didn’t understand what was happening.  ‘Talk to your parents, but if you aren’t comfortable talking to them, you can talk to a teacher or a doctor etc…’  He started laughing here, and thought it to be incredulous that one would talk to one’s teacher about such things…  I’m so thankful, SO thankful, that we are the only ones  with which Tobi would really feel comfortable having these discussions.  I of course also suggested that his brother would be a good resource as well, since he is a guy.  “Really?”, he said.  “I could talk to Trae?”  So Trae, be prepared.  You have a little (not so little anymore) brother that might hit you up for some info.

This guy is such a blessing and I truly thank God for him and his sweet personality.  I was wondering last night what he is going to do for the Kingdom.  Whatever it is, it’ll be great.  Greater than I can think or imagine.

October 22

Neal was heading out the door  to teach at the bible school.  We have some new missionaries staying with us and they decided on a whim that they wanted to go with Neal and hear his teaching.  I didn’t realize they were all going until  Tobi  came and asked if he could go to the school.  “What School?”  I asked.  “The Bible School” he said.  I must have looked confused because he said, “Dad’s teaching on faith!”, like that would clear it all up.  Then off he rushes so he doesn’t miss his ride.

Sometime in September

I was talking with a friend about spanking children.  Tobi was around and I commented that it had been forever since Tobi had had a spanking and in fact he’s received very few of them in his life (compared to his older siblings).  Anyway, I just said, “Maybe I’ve gotten lazy and you really should have had a spanking – I probably missed some so I guess I should spank you now, just to be sure.  Turn around.”  For a first split second, Tobi started to turn around – because I told him to.  Then he realized that was silly and I had been joking.  I started laughing at him.  He then said to me,

“I kind of miss spankings.”.

“What?!” I asked.  “Why?!  What could you miss about spankings.  I certainly don’t miss administering them.”

“Well, because you learn something.  You learn something you shouldn’t do.  It makes you a better person.”

I kid you not.  That’s exactly what he said to me.  And I know it’s hard to believe, but he wasn’t trying to be funny or annoying.  He really meant it.  Scouts honor.  He really is a different kind of kid.  He’s a keeper.

September 3rd

Tobi saw me peeling a cucumber and asked if he could have one.  “Sure”, was of course my reply.  He grabs both a cucumber and tomato and ‘prepares’ them.  We head to my room where it’s a bit cooler, to do some reading.  We’re both minding our own business reading and first I hear him say – Tanika taught me how to eat tomatoes.  Not sure what he meant so I asked for clarification.  He explained that she’s the one who taught him how to slice them and put salt on them.  A bit later, I hear him comment, ‘Man that was a good snack!’  Seriously?  A shriveled cucumber and a tomato?  Doesn’t take a whole lot to make this kid happy.

A bit later we were having a conversation about the importance of eating healthy. I wasn’t one who denied my kids sugar etc, but always wanted to make sure they also ate plenty of good stuff – including fruits and vegetables.  Tobi’s comment?  “I really like vegetables.  I like vegetables more than fruit”.  Reminded me of a time when he was about 5 years old.  We were having a movie night and I had made some hummus and we were eating it with zucchini and peppers etc.  I know that sounds funny, but my family really does enjoy this stuff.  And in my defense, we had other goodies too.  Anyway, Tobi left the room to go get seconds.  He marches back to where the rest of us were, barges into the room and says, “Hey!  Who ate all the hummus and zucchini?”  I gotta say – that just sounded really odd coming out of the mouth of a 5 year old.  So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when tomatoes and cucumbers are a very fulfilling snack for this guy.

May 5th

We had just said goodnight to Tobi.  Went to my computer to do a few things and up pops a Skype chat.  From Tobi.  In the next room.  We’ve recently put Skype on his computer so he can talk with family far away.  Or near apparently.  Anyway, I was giggling the whole time.  Had to paste our first Skype conversation.  The first of what I imagine will be many.  The boy is growing up.

Tobi Childs5/5/12 9:34 PM
Hi mom
Neal & Danette Childs
hi Tobi.
Thought you were reading.
ha ha
what are you doing?
Neal & Danette Childs
I’m writing to Grama
what are you doing?
I’m writing to you
Neal & Danette Childs
what happened to reading?
I dont know what to read
Neal & Danette Childs
time for bed anyway.
but reading a bit of the ‘success’ book by Dr. Rutland is always a good choice.
pick a book, any book.  You have lots of them on your shelf!
thaks for the idea
Neal & Danette Childs
your welcome.
good night!
I love you.
sleep tight.
and don’t let the bed bugs bite.
good night mom sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bight
Neal & Danette Childs
l love you good-bye
Neal & Danette Childs
see you in the morning.
see you in the morning.

January 8, 2012

Tobi has always fallen asleep right away when he goes to bed.  So I was surprised this particular night to hear noise coming from his room when I walked by 30 minutes after bedtime.   I of course stopped to listen…The boy was singing worship songs in both French and English.  It wasn’t ‘noise’ at all.  I walked away with tears in my eyes.

October 29th

The following is an assignment of  Tobi’s (5th grade).  He had to write a narrative on something new that he got.  I wanted to reproduce it here – for posterity.

“My New Ripstick”

One awesome thing that I got for Christmas was a ripstick.  My grandmother and grandfather got me a ripstick.  I asked them and they did.  They usually get what I ask for.  That’s part of why I am grateful for my grandma and grandpa.  And they also love me a lot.  They think I am good at riding it.

This is what it looks like.  It has four squiggly shapes on it with spiky dots on them.  The color of it is black.  It moves by wiggling the back pedal.  If you want to do a wheelie you put your back foot on the end of the ripstick and lean back.  If you want to do a front wheelie you put your front foot at the end and push down.

I like it because you can do lots of tricks on it.  I like it also because you can go fast on it and have races with people on other ripsticks.  A trick that I am good at is doing a wheelie.  I am good at it because I practiced a lot.  I also am good at putting two feet on one foot pedal and still ride for a little bit.

September 16th, 2011

One of the prizes this year at camp for the winning derby car was a little remote control car.  Tobi loved it and decided then and there he was saving his money to buy one.  Little did he know that the thing cost $5.  We decided to surprise him with one.  He was really happy with it.  That night after tucking him into bed, I was leaving the room and while reaching under his pillow he said, “Mom, here.”  He handed me this index card with the most adorable note.  I’m including a picture of it here in case I were to lose the hard copy.  

September 30, 2011

My birthday card from Tobi.  What a sweet kid!

“Happy Birthday Lovely Mom.”

“I hope you have a awsome birthday.  I’m so sorry that I did not  get you a gift.  But the good news is that you can by your earrings with this ten thousand dollars  Oh!  I mean cfa.  I’m giving you ten thousand out of my allowance because I love you.”

The picture at the bottom is me saying ‘Thank you Tobi very much’.

December 2010

We just (December 7th) finished watching ‘Holiday’ with Katherine Hepburn & Cary Grant.  My favorite line was when Johnny (Grant) was being introduced to Linda’s (Hepburn) father and he said, “How do you do?‘”  What’s so memorable about that you might ask?  The memorable part was Tobi’s response to the line:   “How do you do what”?

October 2010

For family devos, we started studying the Book of Acts.  Chapter 1 gives the explanation of Judas Iscariot – and how he killed himself.  Tobi wanted a more detailed explanation so we were explaining how Judas was deceived, which is why he betrayed Jesus and because of the guilt he took his life.  I could tell Tobi was really giving this some thought, though he didn’t say any more.  During our prayer time at the end we each gave a prayer request.  Tobi’s request?  “I want to pray that I never get deceived”.  Perceptive kid!

September 2010

Tobi is a ‘by the book’ kind of guy.  While in the US last year, we got him a Sonic toothbrush.  It has a 2 minute timer built in, recommending 30 seconds of brushing in each quadrant.  Shortly before receiving his new toothbrush, Tobi ‘moved in’ with my brother and family for 4 months while we were itinerating.  They had an idea about how important it was for Tobi to follow the rules.  But about a week after we hit the road, I get a phone call from Kim, my sister in law.  Why, she was wondering, did I have to tell Tobi that he had to brush for the full 2 minutes?  Because now, even if they are running late and Tobi is brushing his teeth, he can’t turn it off – he has to continue until shut-off.  Funny thing is that when I was orienting him on  his new brush, I just commented that it had a timer on it – and wasn’t that a cool feature.  Well last week, Tobi came to me with his old manual toothbrush in hand.  He guiltily admitted to me that he had been using the inferior brush in recent past.  I didn’t know that, as I haven’t supervised Tobi’s hygiene habits in years.  (This is a guy who suds up and washes between his toes)  When questioned as to why he laid the obviously better appliance aside, he said, ‘because that one just takes too long’.  What a kid!

June 2010

This week the church as a whole in Niger has been ask to spend some time praying and fasting for various situations in Niger, specifically for peace in the government.   Since our ministry in Niger is a church-planting one, we wanted to be a part of this corporate prayer time.  We decided as a family to fast and pray on Monday.  All of us with the exception of Tobi have fasted before.  This corporate fast was to be from 6am – 3pm.  Of course we weren’t going to get up and eat at 5:30, so consequently our fast started the evening before.  It was  great opportunity to explain to Tobi the purpose of fasting – to allow our spirit to rise above our flesh (desire for food), making us better able to pray and hear from God.  We had a family devotional time and spent some time praying  for Niger.  Tobi’s prayer (Mr. compassionate) went something like this:  “Father God, I pray for the Muslims in Niger.  I pray that you would help the devil not make them become Muslims…”  His theology is a little off, but at least his heart is in the right place!

April, 2010

Tanika & Tobi were staying with Grama and Grampa.  Tanika has a family friend on Facebook and she didn’t know who Nona was.  Grama explained to Tanika that she was a long time friend/part of their family  and lived and worked with them in Nigeria.  As an after thought, Grama commented that Nona was an ‘African American’.  Tobi, who had been quietly listening to the conversation excitedly threw his arms into the air, smiled and said, ‘just like me!’  Tobi regularly reminds us that he is more African than the rest of us.  He wears it like a badge of honor.

February26, 2010

Tobi is a naturally obedient and compliant child.  We expect it of him/train him that way, but it really is his natural bent.  Last weekend, he was staying with Grama and Grampa and Grama suggested that since he had been up late the night before, that he go and lay down.   This is a boy who doesn’t like to take naps, and I can’t remember the last time he had one.  A few minutes later she went to see what he was doing and he was in the bed sound asleep – on a Saturday afternoon!

Last night, we were eating dinner in our air-conditioned office while watching a DVD.  With our dinner we had some fresh carrots and cucumbers and raw, ‘unsnapped’ green beans.  Apparently he didn’t like the beans, and I could see they were being neglected.  I told him he needed to eat them.  He told me he didn’t really like them.  I told him that he needed to eat them anyway.  I told him to just bite the ends off and eat them.  End of discussion.  We continued watching our show.  At the end, I noticed he still had a pile of beans.  I asked him what he was waiting for.  He said, “you told me I just had to eat the ends off”.  Sure enough.  He had eaten both ends (stems) off of every bean on his plate!   I guess that’s what happens when literalism and obedience collide.  You end up eating green bean stems.

January 14, 2010

Tobi made a commitment to read through the New Testament/Psalms/Proverbs this year.  He has been very diligent and it has caused him to ask even more questions than usual.  He asked me what demons were.  I explained to him the whole lucifer and angels being thrown out of heaven for pride and they are now the devil and his demons. Tobi’s response, “Oh man!  Why did he have to do that?  But he can ask for forgiveness!  God can forgive him.”  When I told him satan’s future,and that heaven was not an option, his compassion came through loud and clear – too loud I might add.  He said, “Well, don’t you think if we pray for him he could get saved?”  My son wants to save the devil!

January 11th, 2010

Just having returned from the US, Tobi and I were re-organizing his clothes.  He looked at them sitting on his bed and said, “Look at all this! I am really blessed. I have so much stuff.” The funny thing is that he has one 3-drawer dresser of clothes (and it’s not even full) and a few things hanging in a closet. I believe his understanding of what it means to be blessed is one of huge benefits we have in raising our kids on the mission field.

September 30th, 2009

Tobi called me this morning to say ‘happy birthday’.  I was telling him how Dad went out and got me fruit and muffins for breakfast, and also got me roses.  Tobi’s reply:  “You ate roses for breakfast?!!?”  Classic Tobi.

September 13, 2009

Tobi is staying with my brother and sister-in-law while we itinerate and this one is from Kim:

Here’s one from Tobi:
In Sunday School large group the leader was using analogies to remind the kids to bring their Bibles to church. She said, “When you go to math class, what book do you bring?” Tobi looked at me annoyed and said, “We have to do MATH here?”. He was relieved to find out the answer!!

September 2009

Here’s another one Kim sent.  Brian is my brother.

We were following a van with an Alaska license plate and I was telling Tanika about Brian and his college friends driving to Alaska the summer before we got married.  It took them 72 hours of straight driving.  She wanted to know how they did that so I said, “Well, 2 would drive and 2 would sleep in the back of the van”.  Tobi’s wheels were turning and then he said, “How did 2 people drive at the same time?” 

April 12, 2009 – Easter

Living in a nation like Niger means that around holiday times there is no commercialism to remind one that it is a holiday.  Not a bad thing at all, considering that our most recent holiday really has nothing to do with Easter bunnies, chocolate or eggs (though I have to say I’m in love with jelly beans).   Nonetheless, since we really have none of the above here, I had asked God to help me come up with something that would make Easter memorable – particularly for Tobi.  Trae and Tanika already have some good Easter memories tucked away.  On Sunday morning during the message, I found myself staring at the communion tray behind the pulpit and it occurred to me that Tobi has not yet taken communion.  There was my answer to prayer.  I motioned for Tobi to come and sit by me.  I quietly asked if he was ready to take communion and understood what it all meant.  He said he did so I told him to listen to Alio’s Easter message, and then Dad was going to come and do the communion.  When Neal came and began a short teaching on communion, he made reference to the verse that says that if one refuses the Lord’s table, he will have no part with Him.  I wasn’t sure if Tobi was listening as he kept fidgeting and I kept reminding him to pay attention.  A few minutes after Neal made that comment, Tobi leaned over to me and said, “So does that mean that all this time that I’ve not taken communion that I have had no part?”  I guess he was listening.  And yes, I set him straight.  So what a perfect memory – for both Easter and his 1st Communion.

March, 20009

Tobi and I were discussing Bible stories before bed one night and he asked me if the big things that he did for God would be little things if Noah did them.

December 11th, 2008

We have a dog.  A very obnoxious dog.  She’s so obnoxious that she’s worthy of her own post.  For now, I’ll just mention that she considers Tobi a play toy.  Her name is Paris and she’s still less than a year old and is supposedly Lab/German Shepard.  One would think you couldn’t go wrong with that combo – but again – that’s a story for another time.  She is forever attacking Tobi every single time he steps out the door.  I have to hand it to him for trying.  He so wants to be able to play with her.  But she plays with him instead.  Once again today he went  out and she uses her mouth to grab him, though playfully, I’m sure in hopes to toss him around like a play thing.  When she’s tied up (much of the time now), she’s calm and Tobi hugs and pets her.  He came in with tears and scrape marks on his arm.  Is there such a thing as ‘dog soup’?  Or how about this – I know horses are turned into dog food – what about the other way around?  Anway, tonight, out of the blue, Tobi said “Mom, maybe Paris has something wrong with her head that we don’t know about.  Like maybe she has a germ or a worm or something.”  I was so shocked that even with welts on his arms he is making excuses for her that all I could think of to say was…”maybe you’re right”.

August 28th, 2008

Tobi was laying on his back on Tanika’s bed pulling his knees up around his ears.  I walked in and he said, “Mom, am I splexible?”  After asking him to repeat himself because it sounded so funny, I explained that yes, he was, but that the word was ‘flexible’.  For some reason it was hard for him to say it correctly, but he finally succeeded.  Then he stood up to demonstrate that he could touch his toes and said, “Mom, am I flexier than you?”

August 25th, 2008

Tobi was near me while I was working on the internet and he saw those silhouette guys that dance in small adds to get one’s attention. They did their job and Tobi asked me if those ‘dancing guys’ were real. “No”, I told him. Of course they weren’t real. They were computer generated. “Ohhhhhhh”, said Tobi, with a light bulb going off in his head kind of look. “So they were made by a generator”. This might be a good place to emphasize the influence one’s culture has on learning. Several years ago I was teaching Tobi the sounds of the alphabet. The picture on the ‘M’ card was mitten. “What’s a mitten?” he asked. And certainly, why would he know what a mitten is when he lives in triple digit temperatures most of the year? However, in Tobi’s defense, I’m betting there aren’t loads of 8 year olds who know what a generator does and how important one can be in producing electricity – especially when electricity frequently goes out in those triple digit temps.

July 22nd, 2008

Tobi went to bed late tonight – 9pm. Once he’s in bed, it’s a rare occasion that he gets up. However, at about 10:30, he walked into the office not looking at all like he’d been asleep. Neal was in his chair, I was bandaging Trae’s hand (that’s another story) and Tobi slowly walks up and stops. We all look at him and for a few seconds nobody says anything – we are too busy staring at Tobi’s right eye. It’s swollen nearly shut. He looks back at us with one eye and says, “Mom, my leg hurts”. It was too funny. I burst out laughing, but he had no idea what was so funny. My first thought was conjunctivitis so I was going to get the ointment we keep on hand for that. But on closer inspection I realized there was no gunky stuff oozing from his eye. Trae jumped up and took a picture of Tobi’s eye and showed it to him. Even he started laughing. I can’t figure out how he had no idea how swollen it was. Then I noticed a bite (presumably mosquito) on his left temple. I could see when he closed his eye that the lid had been bitten. I decided instead to use aloe and sent him on his way back to bed. I can only assume that he couldn’t sleep so invented a reason to get up – as the leg issue was not mentioned again. By the way, the swelling was completely gone the next morning.

July 20th, 2008

On our way home from a village church today, Neal was pointing out a section of the road where there used to be a barrier. Tobi, always wanting to be in the know said, “What? someone died?” The remaining 4 of us in the vehicle were completely confused by the comment. Tobi finally pointed behind us, to the ‘barrier’ we just passed, and said, “That’s where they ‘bury’ people?”

July 8th, 2008

Still working on academics with Tobi during the break, one of his worksheets posed the question ‘about how many inches long is a crayon?’ He asked about it and I showed him the approximate length of an inch using my finger. I reminded him that there were 12 of those in a foot. He promptly lifted his foot up (almost over his head mind you) and said, “so this is 12 inches?”

June 6, 2008

School is officially out but Tobi still spends time each day on some academics at home. We were going over a worksheet where he had to identify a picture and it’s consonant blend. There was a picture of a farm, complete with a very green field and a silo. Though he is familiar with farms in this culture, he didn’t know what this picture was so I told him it was a farm. He quickly identified the blend, but then said ‘Why isn’t it brown’? After all, why would a desert farm be green?

April 26th, 2008

I bought some Head & Shoulders shampoo at a garage sale today. Tobi loves new shampoo and asked if he could have it. I told him no, because Dad likes that kind. He asked what it was called. When I told him, of course he said – “So you can use this to wash your hair and your shoulders?!? Why not?

April 15th, 2008

Tobi had a stuffy nose and while sniffing asked if it was ‘a bunch of nostrils up there’.

April 8th, 2008

Tobi asked if he could open a bottle of soda, drink some now, and save the rest for the next day. I told him he could but that it would go ‘flat’ overnight. He thought for a moment and then while looking very confused and clapping his hands together he said, “You mean like that?”

March 22nd, 2008

On our way to Cotonou, Benin we were faced with lots of traffic on a narrow 2 lane road – mostly gigantic overloaded trucks! In a moment of frustration (there were many such ‘moments’) Neal spoke to the barely moving truck in front of him. “Can you go ANY slower???!!!” A few seconds passed and finally Tobi spoke. “You WANT him to go slower?”

March 2nd, 2008

The other day I was reading to Tobi and there was a picture of a scarecrow in the book. I asked if he knew what it was. He said he didn’t. I told him it was a scarecrow. I asked if he knew what it did. He said he did. “What?” I asked, surprised. “It scares crows”, he said. Sometimes his literal mind comes in quite handy!

February 10, 2008

In church today the visiting speaker was talking about the time Peter lent Jesus his fishing boat. He told us that Jesus wasn’t a fisherman, but that he was a carpenter. Tobi turned to me and whispered “Jesus was a carpenter?” Of course I told him yes, that Jesus was a carpenter. A few seconds later he leans over and whispered, “You mean he made carpets?”

January 31, 2008

Tobi told me about someone at school that is ‘weird’. So we talked about kindness and that I hope he has never said that to this person. He said he never has, and knowing Tobi, I believe him. So then I said I hope you’re not talking behind his back. He said very seriously, “Should I? Should I stand behind him and tell him he’s nice?”

January 28, 2008

When trying to determine which of Tobi’s spelling lists was current, I showed him a list while asking if he had taken that test yet. His reply? “Taken it where?”

Sometime in December, 2007

We were at a carnival put on by the school (one of Trae’s planned Student Council activities). Tobi was playing the fishing game. The fishing poles had magnets for bait. The fish in the paper pond had safety pins attached to them. If the paper fish that was caught had the word ‘prize’ written on it, the fisherperson won a prize. The first time Tobi did it, no prize. He paid, and played again. He picked up the fish and the game ‘operator’ (who happened to be one of his teachers) said to Tobi, “Does it say anything?” Tobi looked at her with a very strange look and looked back at the paper fish in his hand. The teacher repeated herself. “Tobi, does it say anything?” Tobi, with a look on his face that said, ‘I’ll do what you say but it doesn’t make sense’, slowly held the tiny fish up to his ear to hear if it had anything to say.

7 thoughts on “Tobi’s Literalism’s & Other Tobi Stuff

  1. Julie

    I love all of your entries, Danette–I’m a devoted reader. But these entries on Tobi’s Literal-isms are the most delightful, laugh aloud anecdotes I have ever read.

    Love you, Julie


  2. Clifton

    The boy is too funny! I didn’t realize his birthday is coming up so soon. what is the new mailing address so we can send him something. I realize it probably won’t arrive before the day but we’ll try anyway.




  3. Dorothea

    Funny! Nice to “meet” someone else so much like my daughter. I wrote a blog on my website about Jessica’s idyoms…in her speech therapy class she had special homework dedicated to idyoms. It was multiple choice. For example: you crack me up really means a) scramble me some eggs b) you crack my head c) you make me laugh. Somehow the whole thing was so funny because it seems unheard of to have to teach someone about figures of speech. Another time we were visiting grandparents and were packing up to come home. I told Jess to go get a trash bag to put the dirty clothes in. Her reply? Are you going to throw our clothes away?


  4. Debby Stanke

    What can I say, I just love reading everything you write. These literalisims are the best. Just reading them makes me miss him so much.

    Just keep writing, I get blessed with every word.

    Love, Debby


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