An even foggier morning commute.

The populist, nationalist, far-right Sweden Democrats got 13% of the votes in this weekend’s elections, ending up as the third largest party. This awakes all kinds of negative feelings in me. On the one hand, the negative, ranging from simple distaste to worries about a future that echoes 1930s Germany.

And on the other hand a guilt-mixed gratitude that I share none of the worries and frustrations that have driven so many to vote against the “establishment”: I do not need to worry about unemployment, the social safety net, the availability of health care for the young and nursing for the elderly, integration and segregation, crime… Intellectually I know that several of these topics could become relevant to me personally with very short notice, but for now I blithely live on in my worryless world.

But what this also does is awake debate. I normally skip all the articles about politics in newspapers etc. They’re either full of dull questions about administrative details (who wants to lower which tax by how many percentage points) or about individual politicians (who was caught fiddling what rule, or who said what about somebody else).

And now, for the first time in forever, there are interesting articles about politics in the newspapers. They discuss ideology, the big issues, visions for the future. Oh there also are endless pages of discussion about who will or will not ally themselves with whom to form a government… but for the first time in years, or possibly EVER, I am reading and sharing articles about politics, such as this, and this. Good things might yet come out of this.

Foggy morning commute.

Forty-eight months; four years today.

It isn’t easy to be Adrian right now. He is anxious and worried. He is tired. He is irritable and sensitive. He is angry. There is something in him or his life that is not letting him just be.

He is worried and clingy. There’s no separation anxiety per se: he has no difficulty letting go of us, there are no tears when we drop him off at preschool, no problems sleeping in his own bed. But he wants to know all the time where I am, and if I by any chance go upstairs without telling him and he notices, he’s in tears and tells me to wait for him. In the morning when I leave for work he must get a chance to give me hugs and lots of kisses; just saying good-bye is not enough.

This weekend when we were walking in the forest he held on to someone’s hand almost all the time, and when he didn’t, he stayed within a few steps of us. When Ingrid falls behind on the way home from school – not far, maybe just 10 meters – he starts to worry. At birthday parties (which we’ve had at a pace of about once per week) he insists on me or Eric staying there during the entire party.

He is easily upset and inflexible. When things are not exactly the way he had planned or expected, he breaks down. No bananas in the house? “Then I won’t eat any breakfast at all!” Favourite pyjamas are in the laundry? “Then I don’t want go sleep at all!” He cries and shouts and stomps out of the room.

Sometimes just saying no to him is enough, even in the kindest possible tone. Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be an explicit no, even something like “be careful here, the saucepan is hot” can cause tears and drama.

If it’s me causing the problem (by warning him about hot saucepans for example) “then I won’t talk to you” and “I want to be by myself!” or “then you’re the stupidest mum in the world!”

It’s always worst when he is tired or when he has low blood sugar. Mornings are sensitive, especially before breakfast on weekday mornings when we have to wake him. Evenings likewise. We are very careful not to let him stay up too late because it will only end badly, and have repercussions the morning after, too.

He’s almost always tired when I pick him up at preschool – I suspect he may not eat enough. He used to ride his balance bike to and from preschool; now he’s always too tired and I bring him home on the back of my bike. And he always needs at least one banana immediately after preschool. Some days he eats three during the 5 or 10 minutes it takes us to get to Ingrid’s school.

The rest of us try to compensate. We do our best to be extra flexible and accommodative, to break bad news (such as the lack of bananas) gently. To mention alternatives, but suggest no solutions; to give choices, but not too many. It can become pretty taxing mentally, to have to be so careful around him.

In between he is friendly, kind and sweet. Then he tells me I’m the best mum in the world. He asks me how my day was and likes to listen to me to describe everything I did during the day.

He plays well together with Ingrid, and as far as I know he’s happy and sociable at preschool. He likes playing with girls best. For his birthday party this Saturday, his guests will be 4 girls. He used to have a few boys he played with but many are too wild for his taste. He especially doesn’t like the ones who play wild, angry games with “shooters” and lots of noise.

Favourite toy: Lego, by far. Sometimes when he walks away in anger from the breakfast table he goes to our office (which is the room furthest away from the kitchen) and slams the door shut. Other times he notices the bin with Lego blocks on his way and stops there, and calms himself down with some building work.

Favourite clothes: pyjamas.

Adrian with the toy phone that he got from Ingrid as a birthday present. “Look, my phone has a camera!”

He also instantly fell in love with his plush monster Rufus, who got to go with him to preschool today. Here Rufus is getting ready for the ride home in my bicycle basket.

Ingrid is so busy thinking about all the birthdays. First there’s Adrian’s actual birthday, which she has taken really seriously. She made a plush little monster for him, and saved up pocket money for many weeks to buy him presents. (A toy mobile phone, like the one she has, and a Lego set.) And it was really important for her to help plan the day: waking Adrian with a birthday song in the morning, having presents for him, being extra nice to him etc.

Then there’s Adrian’s birthday party with his friends, for which she helped craft invitations.

Then there’s her own birthday party which we need to plan. She’s hesitating between a small party at home with her best friends, and a larger party somewhere else so she can invite all the girls in her class. It will have a Halloween theme because we’ll be away during the actual Halloween trick-and-treating, and she’s already got her costume chosen.

And then finally both kids’ combined birthday party with all our extended family, where the main deal is all the presents she hopes to get.

Ordinary life, by comparison, is rather boring. Ingrid is easily bored, wants lots of activity and has a hard time coming up with activity for herself. And most activities are only fun if someone joins her. Drawing, painting, crafts etc; building with Lego; playing with her doll and stuffed animals – all fun together with someone but not at all if she’s on her own.

On her own she reads. She still likes books to have pictures so she devours comics of all kinds. We have a subscription for Kalle Anka and she also gets one second-hand issue of Bamse and one of Kalle Anka pocket every week. She borrows comics books from the school library as well as Spånga library: Lou, Kalle Anka (again), Bamse (again) etc. But also Diary of a wimpy kid for example: it’s got enough drawings in it to keep Ingrid’s attention.

As for actual books, Lasse Maja is still her favourite by far. She has read other mysteries as well but those are the ones she returns to.

She likes to order Adrian around. She tells him to go get stuff for her when she can’t be bothered to walk there. Usually Adrian is happy to help. Win-win. Sometimes he can’t find the thing she wants and needs more instructions and then the whole thing takes longer than it would have taken for her to do it herself, but of course that is not the point.

Likewise she uses him as her mouthpiece when she wants my help but I’m in a different room. Adrian, gå hämta emme. I dislike being “remote controlled” like that and tend to refuse as a matter of principle.

Ingrid has started cycling to school in the morning together with her friend Majken and her parents. Again a win-win situation for all of us: the girls get company; Ingrid has a strong incentive to be ready on time (which she almost always is anyway); Adrian and Eric can get ready in peace at their own pace.

She’s also started to walk to and from swim school and scout meetings on her own. (This term her swimming lessons are at Spångabadet, very close to our home.)

She likes having long hair but doesn’t see the point of brushing it properly, or of keeping it out of her face. I keep nagging her to get her hair out of her food, and put it up instead.

Corn fritters for dinner. Circles within circles.

Dinner with the ReQtest team at a Lebanese restaurant.

A non-murderous leopard slug.

I’m experimenting with a daily photography project. I’ve managed to keep it up through an entire working week so it seems to be doable. Therefore it’s time to put it out here.