Monday, March 11, 2024

Maren Turns 4

 Dear Maren,

You’re four years old. Always a hard milestone for me because the baby years are fully behind us, leaving us with a long legged, braid-wearing, brazen little girl.

Your days start with your brothers with the three of you occasionally creeping downstairs without us even knowing. These were the days we dreamt about when nobody in this house was sleeping a handful of years ago, and now, somehow, we’ve arrived. You would live your whole life in pajamas if you could and getting dressed is still notably one of your least favorite parts of the day. Fiercely opinionated about what to wear, your favorite t-shirts and leggings are on repeat with piles of alternate suggestions tossed to the side every morning. Your favorite things are coloring (with such exceptional precision it’s scary), playing board games (especially Guess Who, Zingo, and Dragon’s Breath), playing outside with your neighborhood friends, climbing the front yard tree, reading books, and snuggling up to watch a movie. You never want to go to school but your days go just fine, which has been a running trend from the very beginning. You can count pretty endlessly, can write all of your letters and your first and last name, know all of your letter sounds, know about 25 sight words, and are so interested in reading and doing math like you observe nightly at the homework table. There are no words for the amount of thrilled you were when your Pre-K class issued a red homework folder that looked exactly like your brothers’. You memorize books so that you can “read” them to us—a pretty impressive skill and one of my favorite tricks of yours.  You love the Little Miss book series and if you had to choose a topic to prepare a dissertation on, it would probably be about all of the characters within them.

We’re in the challenging part of toddlerhood where you’ve fully outgrown a nap but have to take one at school, leaving us with long nights with your copious amounts of energy into the 9 and 10 o’clock hours. I’m so ready for you to move into a different classroom in the fall where we can finally leave the very unneeded rest time behind and gain some semblance of a balanced bedtime routine. I asked you why you fall asleep at school when you’re not even tired, and you sighed and said, “When they put that [lullaby] music on it’s like a tranquilizer dart”.

Your favorite food has somehow become Grape Nuts cereal but you don’t know the name of it, and we will forever laugh when you ask for a bowl of crumbs before bedtime. All of your other adventurous eating has slowly fallen to the wayside this year, in true 4-year-old fashion, also frustratingly influenced by your brothers. We are, however, kind of mind blown at the fact that you wont eat a single piece of candy or fruit snack with the exception of some Reese’s peanut butter cups, who should probably sponsor you for that.

To say you’re ahead of your time doesn’t quite do it justice. Your vocabulary, your presence, it’s all bigger than life. Just recently, you marched back into your dentist’s office, leaving me alone in the waiting room while you made your own medical decisions thank-you-very-much.

Your brothers and we love and have a reasonable fear of you. You can hold your own, resulting in some heated sibling interactions. Your brothers go between giggling at your antics to being frustrated about often having to surrender to a 4-year-old’s demands. On the flip side, I still catch you and August imagining and pretending together. His patience is the biggest and he still has just enough little boy in him to play in imaginary worlds with you. Your lingo has developed into a 9 year old’s, with you telling me that your new Paw Patrol toys are “so sick” while you sing along to Blink 182.

This year’s adventures took you to Disney World, Finland and Scotland, and except for the jet lag, you’re an amazing little traveler. You’re ready to take on the world to the surprise of no one.

You started a Little Gym class this year, your first real activity for just you after living at your brothers’ practices and games. You still say you want to be a soccer player when you grow up and number one on your Christmas list this year was “Beadling gear”, the club team that Oskar plays for. You’re starting to practice on your very own team this spring and I can’t wait to watch you play.

When I think back on this year, I’ll always remember your big blue eyes, face smudged with dirt from playing outside, braided hair windblown, and your two fingers popped in your mouth whenever you’re tired. As much as I tell you that you need to stop sucking them, your dentist reported that your teeth were perfectly fine despite the sleepy habit, which you fully understood and reported back to me as an I-told-you-so. You have a lingering scar under your eye and a fresher one on your forehead that warranted stitches but was glued shut by your doctor dad to save us a trip to the ER.

I was so excited to have a little girl, but goodness, I’m even happier to raise one with a belly full of fire. When you were born, August called you “Miss Mouse” when he first met you. Now, every time you win a game or observe something that we haven’t, you remark to yourself, “What a clever little mouse.”

You’re now turning the same age as August was when you were born, a crazy full-circle kind of moment. One thing is for sure: you were meant to be the baby of this family—someone to keep us laughing, and also just a little bit scared, every single day.

Happy 4th birthday to our beautiful baby girl. You’ve made our family the happiest, and also kept us on our toes, for 4 whole years. We love you, we love you, we love you.





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