Every month when I sit down to write this monthly update, I think about how fast Ingrid is growing up. The big obvious milestones like walking and talking are well behind her now. But when you look closely enough, she’s still changing and learning all the time. In a way the changes now are more interesting, because they’re more subtle and more complex.
Speaking of walking and talking, she has just learned to jump with two feet and is very proud of it. Her jumps are tiny, with both feet just barely leaving the floor, but she enjoys it a lot and will happily demonstrate this skill for us many times.
On the language front she is now grappling with grammar. She understands singular/plural (koer vs. koerad) and genitive (pappas tallrik) as well as some basic verb forms (springa vs. springer). More recently I’ve noticed that she is starting to use the definite forms of Swedish words (hämta boken) and to figure out some Estonian verb forms (oota / ootama / ootan). That last one is going to be a hard one; Estonian grammar is not for the faint-hearted.
Her love of letters (which I mentioned two months ago has cooled somewhat, but now and again she still likes me to point out letters for her. Somehow she’s also learned to count to 10. It’s not something we’ve practiced specifically, but I do count to 20 while brushing her teeth to get her to sit still long enough. (I count very fast when she’s really tired and cranky, and really slowly when she’s preoccupied and happy to let me brush. Time is relative.)
Last month’s emotional turbulence has settled and life is calmer here again. Or perhaps we’ve just become more adept at managing it? It seems to me, anyway, that it’s not as important any more for Ingrid to control every small aspect of her life, and she doesn’t react as strongly when things don’t go her way. We have found a workable balance again between our wants and needs.
My life also became a fair bit smoother when she discovered the wonders of Teletubbies. Now she spends about an hour watching Teletubbies every evening. When she’s tired she wants me to sit there with her (so I read a book or a magazine) but quite often she’s happy to watch it on her own for a while, which leaves me time to prepare dinner (for example). Very convenient.
I was somewhat less happy when she discovered the joys of candy. Of course all candy is near the checkouts in the supermarket, at eye level for a toddler. I made the mistake of letting her buy candy a few times, and then she came to expect it every time. When I realised where this was heading and started setting limits (no, it is not OK to eat a pack of sweets every day before dinner) she was quite upset. Luckily she’s more interested in buying the candy than eating it, so my current solution is to let her buy some occasionally, but then only let her eat a small part of what she bought, so that next time we’re at the supermarket I can tell her that she cannot buy any more because we still have candy at home. Or even better, I do the grocery shopping on my own – this way she doesn’t even think about candy, and rarely asks for it at home.
|Ingrid watching TV, with cow and sticky plaster
Luckily Ingrid has found several other new interests, too. Singing is one of them, and she likes it almost as much as reading books. She brings me a songbook and asks me to sing for her, one song after the other. She also knows a lot of them by heart and sings them herself. (Well, not quite sings, but she speaks the lyrics with a special tone of voice, and sometimes there’s a bit of melody and a rhythm.) Any mention of a star or sight of a star (quite frequent this time of the year, with Christmas decorations popping up everywhere) is likely to set her off singing “Twinkle twinkle little star”. And many times she just picks a random song and starts singing it. Of course with many of the songs she has no chance of understanding the lyrics (“fjärran lockar du min syn / likt en diamant i skyn”… no chance!) but she still generally manages to pronounce something that we recognise.
Drawing and painting is another favourite – but painting with a brush, rather than with her fingers, which toddlers generally begin with. She had tried finger painting a few times at nursery, but not liked it much, so I wasn’t in a hurry to try it at home. But when she got to try painting with a brush (at the Estonian playgroup we go to) she really enjoyed it. So now we occasionally do that at home, too. She generally doesn’t like to get “stuff” on her hands, whether it’s sand or mud or paint, and tries to wipe it off straight away. When she finger paints, she does it carefully with the tip of one finger. When she draws with a pen or a brush she seems to feel a lot freer, and the result is far more vigourous.
Even some toys are interesting now: all kinds of puzzles. We’ve got a whole bunch, ranging from stuff that we thought she had outgrown (a knob puzzle with five large wooden geometrical shapes of different colours) through just-hard-enough (a set of four wooden jigsaw puzzles of 3 pieces each, with pictures from Disney’s The Jungle Book) to some that she definitely needs help with (a nine-piece cube puzzle).
Ingrid’s approach to knob puzzles is clearly based on memory: she’s got one with four blob-shaped pieces with animal pictures, and she puts each one in the right slot without having to think about it. With the geometrical one, she knows where the pieces fit, but she tries other approaches, too, discovering that while the rectangle will fit into the square slot, the square then won’t fit; and that the circular piece can be rotated in place but the others cannot.
She solves the jigsaws in two phases. First she finds the three pieces of the elephant (for example) because she knows what the picture is supposed to look like. Then she fits them together, based on shape (knob vs hole) and picture. The pictures make it easy, because they’re generally cut in three (head, body, feet) and she knows that the head should be above the body and the feet below.
But with cube puzzles, where there are no knobs to guide her, she always needs help. She can find the cow pieces on all cubes, and lay out the cubes with the cow side up, but she hasn’t figured out how to match adjacent cubes. Sometimes she lays them in a row, sometimes in a square (if she has the box to guide her) but she puts them in random places and with random orientation. I try to tell her that she needs to turn them to make them fit together, or switch them around, but she doesn’t understand how it all works.