I’m in!

Dec 06

On the way to church today, we were continuing a conversation that started over pancakes this morning.  Brad and I think Maren should take some music lessons of some kind.  Maren has no interest and is pushing back.  We are gently pressing on. She is still saying no.

Obviously, we have hit a new parenting stage: we are in the tweenage years people. It has arrived.  She’s delightful in six new ways, so it’s cool to lover her in six new ways, but the emotions of this stage are for real.

In the car, over my shoulder, Maren was emotional; earlier in the conversation we picked a random instrument so as not to create scars around an instrument we are actually considering: guitar, piano, ukulele, or violin.  We gave “music lessons” the moniker “trombone lessons” for the purposes of our conversation.

In my best rational Mom voice, “I think you should play the trombone because blah, blah, blah,” and I yammered on with my reasons I thought it was a good idea.

Even-tempered, yet teary Maren: “But I am not interested in music at all.”

“Daddy thinks it was one of the best things he did for himself and it helped him in lots of ways.”

“But I don’t want to play the trombone!  I’m not going to be good, and I’m not going to like it.  Why should I do something that is scary and that I’m not into?”  The kid has persuasive arguments.

“Hey guys!  I’ll play the trombone!” pipes up a little voice from the way back of the van.

“What Greta?” I say.

“Mom, I’ll play the trombone so Maren doesn’t have to!” she says.  She’s grinning from ear to ear.  In her mind, she has solved all the world’s problems.

Right then my heart just melted for my littlest girl.  In our new van, she prefers to sit in the way back.  Maren prefers the captains chairs in the middle, so it makes it easy to focus on one kid at a time.  I treasure the fact that Greta was following the conversation, and that she interjected when she thought she could help.  That is so Greta: she casts a ray of sunlight into most situations.  Today, in the midst of a hard conversation, she stepped in and made it better.  Maren felt loved in Greta’s attempt to rescue her, and I felt pride and hope in my fierce girl’s heart.

“I fink” and “fank you” were Maren’s last lisps of babyhood.  She lost them in kindergarten.  I grew up in the USA with an Australian mother; she tells me that I had an Australian accent as a small child, but I lost my accent within two weeks of starting kindergarten.  Greta is in her last year of preschool so I am taking note of her baby-isms as I know the window is coming when she will lose them.

She chooses her own outfits, carefully deconstructing the matching outfits I have lined up in her closet.  Greta pulls a pair of pants and a random shirt, and socks — oh my — only socks with loud patterns are acceptable.  Most often she wears mis-matched socks.  And by mis-matched I mean that the socks themselves do not match, nor do they match the outfit she’s created.  Maybe they are mis-mis-matched socks?  She is finicky about layers and texture and print and pattern and silhouette.  It’s amazing to listen to her wardrobe critiques.  I have an easy (EASY) time shopping for Maren: if I want it in my size, I can buy it for Maren with confidence.  Greta on the other hand is entirely unpredictable — and methinks it changes daily hourly –, but her style is my favorite.  She knows who she is and she flaunts it.

I’m reminded of Greta as a baby.  She would spontaneously start clapping and then she would look around at all of us and will us to clap.  And of course: we did.  It’s like she just knew she could skip the accomplishment and go straight to the praise: she’s that self-confident.

She loves playdates and has a lot of friends.  However, all of her friends are girls; she tolerates the boys (barely).

Last week she told me she has to “rememborize” her homework.  (Her preschool does not assign homework.)

“Nogurt” is her word for yogurt.  I will probably call it nogurt forever.

Food is a thing with Greta.  She’s been in feeding therapy twice, each for several months at a time, but it fell off our calendar because, you know, life.  (And it didn’t seem to be helping at all anyway.)  Basically, she is both very stubborn and has real issues with texture and a sharp gag reflex.  She started eating carrots this month, and I am relieved she is eating a vegetable with texture.

She loves to bake and help in the kitchen.  She’s good at setting the table.

Her bedtime routine is easy and calm: pajamas, teeth, potty, find blanky, find animal-of-the-day, story, kiss/hug, start music, sippy cup of water on the nightstand.  Boom, she’s out.

Most of the time, she uses her power for good.  However, when stubborn Greta comes out, watch out!  I once sat in the parking lot of preschool for one-hour and thirteen minutes because she refused to put on her seatbelt in the car.  (Yes, I timed it.  Yes, it was awful.)  That tenacity is going to serve her well one day, I know.

She’s big for her age: wearing size 6X and 7 as a four-year-old!

She can swim with more confidence than she rides her bike.

She’s musical and sings with her whole body when she sings.  There is no nonchalance, there is only stage performance.

Go Fish is her favorite game.  I encourage you to play with her; she makes it genuinely fun.

Often when I type Greta, I type Great.  It’s not coincidence.

Her contagious spirit, her fearlessness, and her “I’m in” mentality are such a credit to who God has created her to be.  I delight in her and the role she plays in our family.

When Greta gets tired and irrational, the best way to calm her is to give her something to snuggle against her cheek.  Last week during family hullabaloo, I caught Maren whisper-calming Greta and unwinding her own scarf and tucking it against Greta’s cheek.  Maren reads her so well, and is so amazingly unselfish with her.  Greta idolizes Maren.  When I think back on this day, one of the best and shiniest moments was Greta’s effort to take on her sister’s burden during the trombone situation.  I think of the delight it is when we can help a hero; serving is always cathartic, but it takes on exceptional resonance when we serve someone we admire.  I love that my girls are playing these principles back and forth with each other.  Service, admiration, emulation, love, sharing; the richness of their sisterhood is deep and wide.

Keep jumping with both feet Greta; I’m in.


  1. What an amazing tribute to your incredible “little” girl!!

  2. Kim Rourke /

    Smiles to start my day!! In your “spare” time I wonder if your mind ever envisions the wonderfully powerful children’s books waiting to be created? Happy week of mommying!

  3. Lindsay l /

    Love this…❤️

  4. A simply wonderful tribute to your little girl! Thank you for capturing in words for us. Celebrating her and the role she has in your family!

  5. Christy /

    Your love for your girls shines through in your writing. What a blessing it is to have a mom who “notices” so much about what makes each one of them tick! Lucky girls, indeed.

  6. Aunt annie /

    I so enjoy these shared moments you bless us with! Thank you!
    I have a 3/4 size violin with case that I played (wasn’t good) and Amy played (was better, but ultimately chose piano). So if you can convince Maren to try it, it is yours. Needs tuning and probably a new bow.

  7. I totally agree with Kim…I can envision an entire series of Maren & Greta books. For now, mom can write the text and the little girls can supply the illustrations! Their stories always make me feel some emotion as well as sneak in a lesson. Go for it. We’re “all in”!

  8. You looked great today Jen as I passed by you in preschool! Can you believe both are youngins will be in kindergarten next year? Greta is growing up GREAT with fantastic parents! Have a blessed Christmas!

  9. I love reading these mom-observations (mobservations?) you have made of your precious daughters. You have taken the time to know them intimately, to know their hearts. And just think how much more God knows them and loves them! It’s truly beyond measure, mind-blowingly amazing.

    I wonder if it would help to have Nana show an interest in one of the preferred instruments? Perhaps a special Nana date and happenstance listening to and looking at the instruments? Just a thought.
    When it came time for one of my boys to choose an instrument, my friend who is a band teacher at a middle school let us come in on a summer day and she played each instrument and then offered a chance to try it. Most were definitely not the one and occasionally he held his hands over his ears, but when my son heard the flute, he perked up — and when he tried it, he beamed. Maybe there is a music school nearby where you could do this? Or even the local high school’s Christmas concert would be a good place. Go to hear the great music and see if anything catches her interest. For the ukulele, some Jake Shimabukuro YouTube videos might do the trick!