More so than either of his siblings, Toby is a mass of contradictions.
Sometimes he is so quiet that he would make a statue of a Trappist monk look talkative. And yet there are times – typically when it comes to cars – when you can’t stop him talking.
He is an independent soul, the only one of our children who is comfortable in his own company. And yet there are times when he loves nothing more than a hug and to sit quietly with us.
He’s been like that this week, needing our comfort and reassurance.
Over the Christmas holidays, after six years of sharing, we moved the boys into separate bedrooms. For as long as he can remember, Toby has always slept in the same room as Isaac. But with Isaac turning ten and desperate for his own private space, we took the plunge and handed our spare bedroom/laundry room/random junk storage space to Toby.
We thought he would enjoy his independence. Generally he has. He’s been happy and smiley – the kind of grin you see above has been fairly typical – and enjoyed having his own room.
Until this week, that is.
We’ve had tears at bedtime. He has been unable to sleep and keeps coming downstairs for an extended cuddle and, I think, to just check we are still there.
As much as he values his independence, he has clearly been lonely this week.
We haven’t yet been able to work out if this is the result of not having the comforting presence of his brother near him. Perhaps it’s related to something that has happened at school. Or maybe he’s been having bad dreams and doesn’t want to go to sleep alone.
Whatever the cause, we haven’t seen enough of that toothy, slightly goofy grin in recent days. I hope it returns soon.