On this day...
1 year ago: Macro
3 years ago: Knitting

My favourite crumble (which really is a scrunch rather than a crumble) is still as awesome as ever. Here with cherries.

Ingrid wanted to make dinner. She made a potato gratin. (I did help out with the peeling and slicing because we were under a bit of time pressure.) Here she is grating the cheese.

When the body is restless but the brain just wants to watch movies.

With Ingrid spending the day (and night) away with a friend, Eric and Adrian and I went to Hagaparken for sledding. First we had a nice long walk in the more wooded parts of the park. Then lunch, and after lunch some great rides down the slope. Good gliding, great speed. Adrian was whooping with joy on the way down; I myself was so out of practice sledding that I was actually secretly pleased we couldn’t go even faster.

Today was my kid-free night and I went to the cinema. I saw Imitation game which I had high hopes for, but came away disappointed. Benedict Cumberbatch does a good job and is very believable, so when I came out of the cinema I felt pretty good about the movie. But the more distance I get and the more I have time to think about what the movie actually said and did, the less I like it. The story of Enigma and Alan Turing is told in such simplistic terms that it’s almost insulting.

According to the movie, Turing was a lone genius, totally socially inept. Recruited to help break the Enigma, he designed and built a great machine, working on it alone for something like two years, while the rest of the team mostly stood in his way and argued with him and his bosses tried to hinder him. (One wonders why they kept paying him all that time.) First the machine did not work, then he had another genius idea, and then it worked. Done! Whoo! Oh, and Turing also makes all the heroic decisions and choices.

He’s been squeezed into the mould of an immature nerd with no sense of humour and no social skills, making him almost a caricature – and to make this totally obvious everybody else is reduced to the role of ignorant hindrance.

Turing’s homosexuality is weirdly present but not present. On the one hand much is made of his first crush as a schoolboy, and the conviction for gross indecency that led to his downfall. But between those events, we see none of it. It’s like the movie is still stuck in the 1950s and tries to sweep homosexuality under the carpet.

While the movie seems to have been made with the aim of raising him from obscurity and showing him for the hero that he was, as well as wagging a finger at the homophobia of that time, it rather does the opposite. It manages to portray him as a victim rather than a hero (and in fact adds a subplot that would turn him into a traitor as well, if it had any basis in fact).

My sheepskin slippers, waiting by the staircase.

When they are not on my feet, my slippers are in one of their two parking spaces. One is a basket in the living room, which holds everybody’s slippers. The other is next to the staircase up to the bedrooms. I park the slippers there when I go upstairs at night. I don’t walk around upstairs so I don’t need them there, and I find them slightly clumsy on the stairs. Plus, this way I always know where to find them.

Perler bead cupcake macro.

Adrian is so earnest. He does everything so intensely and with such presence and conviction. Everything is for real, everything is 100%.

He comes up with pretend games and then plays them and develops them further with passion well past the point when I get tired of them. Currently, for example, when we walk somewhere on the incredibly icy streets, the ruts in ice are a labyrinth, like in the Labyrint TV show, and in between the walls of ice there are monsters called Taurus (like in the show), and you mustn’t step on the monsters or they will slime you. No, you mustn’t step on the ice because then you will end up in the cage. No, you must step on the monsters because that will make them flat like pancakes. No, stepping on the monsters will make them small like the tip of your thumb. No, stepping on the monsters will kill them and then they cannot slime us any more. And so on.

Monsters and killing them is a recurring theme. There are all kinds of monsters, and all kinds of ways of vanquishing them.

For obvious reasons, ice is another topic that Adrian keeps coming back to. He talks about how ice melts when you take it indoors, asks if ice can kill you if it hits you, and if you can eat ice.

He also talks about growing up. You grow when you eat. And you grow when you have a birthday party. (He insists it is definitely not the other way around.)

Adrian may have a rich imagination, but some things should just the same as they always are. When we play with Lego, he gets angry with me when I put the wrong hair or headgear on a figure, or put a dog in the same car with Spiderman. Nej det ska inte vara så!

When I find a piece I like in our pile of Lego pieces, he “needs that one” and tries to grab it. When I start building something and he likes the look of it, he doesn’t make a similar one – he wants to take mine, or says “make one like that for me, too”.

In other situations as well, when Ingrid or I come up with an idea that he likes, he doesn’t spin it out further but just tries to grab it. On our way home from school I asked both kids what body parts they would like to have. Ingrid says she’d like wings. “I’ll have wings too!” shouts Adrian. I say I want a tail like a monkey. “I’ll have a monkey tail too!” says Adrian.

He tries threats as a negotiation tactic. But his threats are not very well chosen – often he uses threats that would hurt him more than me. I accept this threat, and then he quickly back-pedals. “If you don’t read another chapter then I will never listen to this book again!” OK, I say. “Uh… OK, I do want to listen to it tomorrow as well.”

He is starting to try reading very short words, and asks me what this or that word says. He likes to browse Bamse comics, and asks me about big bold words like “Kaboom” or “Bang” etc. He also tries to spell out the names of his friends on the phone list for his preschool group, when he wants me to call someone for a playdate.

At preschool he works a lot with perler beads. Almost every day he comes home with a beaded object. At first it was just geometric shapes, first with random colours and then with patterns. Then he started following all kinds of patterns that they have at preschool. We have a perler bead bird and a bunny, a cupcake and an ice cream cone, and so on.

Small stuff:

  • For a while he kept waking up at night and wandering into our bedroom. We even put the third bed “unit” back so there would be space for him. Then he stopped.
  • I gave him fleece pyjamas for Christmas (that I ordered all the way from the US because I couldn’t find any in Sweden) and he so loves wearing them.
  • I am making him practice walking down the stairs with just one step per stair, when we walk together. He likes to step left-right on each stair, and the slowness of that approach is beginning to really bother me.
  • He has discovered that he likes salmon.

We finally smashed the gingerbread house and ate our fill. Made of store-bought gingerbread cookie parts, the actual house didn’t taste too good. Ingrid mostly ate the chewy candy decorations; Adrian liked the smarties; I thought the combination of gingerbread and caramelized sugar (used to assemble the parts) actually tasted pretty good.

After noticing last month that I know Ingrid less and less well, I’ve made an effort to connect again. Not by doing anything special, really… mostly by listening more – and better.

I make sure to not brush her off when she appears to be complaining about trivial things, or when I really would rather be doing something else. I am super cautious about objections, and very careful with questions so she doesn’t feel interrogated. I refrain from offering advice and solutions. I am re-reading the excellent How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Surprisingly often a conversation starts with a complaint about something trivial, but when she gets that out of the way, it turns out that there was a bigger issue behind it, and maybe something even larger behind that one.

Ingrid may start by complaining about a hurt toe (or something of that magnitude), then grumble that it feels like everything has been going wrong today, then go on to describe a quarrel she had with a friend at school, and end up telling me about how kids mock others at school for not being like everybody else.

She is very sensitive to others’ opinion about her, and especially to being mocked or made fun of – far more than I had realised. For example, I now know that she stopped borrowing Daisy Meadows books from the school library because one (one!) boy once (once!) told her they were “wimpish” (töntiga). That was in spring. And she hasn’t tried again since then.

When something bad happens during the day (like a quarrel with a friend) and doesn’t get resolved, the bad feeling can remain with her all day. It’s difficult for her to let go of worries and negative feelings. It’s most noticeable at night when it’s time for her to go to sleep: when the world is quiet around her and there is nothing to distract her, all the day’s worries come back. That’s also the time when she is most likely to talk about things that are on her mind. I wonder if that’s part of the reason why she always wants to be so busy: so she won’t have to think about her feelings.

Recently I’ve also noticed her being unusually sensitive to criticism, especially if it makes her feel stupid. Sometimes she is even hurt by what she interprets as criticism from Adrian – who is half her age, often gives very little thought to what he says to her, and whose opinion Ingrid normally doesn’t care much about at all. But all she notices in that case is that someone thinks that she is no good.

Sometimes it’s OK that criticism makes her feel bad – sometimes I really am angry with her and criticise something she’s done because it was a stupid thing to do. But other times all I want is to suggest a different way of doing something, or remind her about something she’s forgotten to do, and in that case I have to be really careful about how I express myself.

She feels insecure and vulnerable (which makes it extra hard, but also extra important, for her to talk about her “bad feelings”). She says she likes falling asleep in our bedroom because she feels more secure there. Not that she’s afraid of the dark – but she doesn’t get as many “bad thoughts” there.

She says she doesn’t like going to town, or taking the train. I tried to winkle out the cause, and it seemed to be that she doesn’t like the feeling of so many people around her, looking at her.

She says she wants things to be “the way they usually are”, som det brukar vara. And at the same time she appears bored with things always being the same. Some novelty is good, but the foundation needs to stay secure.

I wonder how much of all this vulnerability and insecurity is a recent thing, and how much of it has been there for a while and only just become more visible now that I am making an effort to listen and see. There’s definitely some of both.

Random facts:

  • Ingrid is discovering the social side of the Internet. Favourite game: Animal Jam, an online game with the usual pets-homes-and-accessories theme. Her best friend M introduced her to it and (because this is an online game) they have been playing it together, while talking on Skype.
  • She was interested in ballet for a short while. We looked up some beginner tutorials on YouTube, she tried a few positions and steps, and talked about ballet lessons. But the interest passed, and ballet lessons were not interesting enough to drop any of her current activities.
  • Same with playing the guitar.
  • Latest favourite purchase: a large plush horse. It is not just a toy but has also served as book support, iPad support, and a helper for maths homework where she had to estimate and then measure the length of things.