This month’s big news is that we’ve finished breastfeeding. We took it slow and easy (almost 6 weeks from decision to completion) so it wasn’t much of a struggle but Ingrid still misses it occasionally. Early December I cut out breastfeeding from the afternoon we’re-home-from-nursery cuddle session. Then a week later I told her that she would not get to nurse in the evening when she goes to bed. Then in mid-December she was sick with a high fever, and so miserable that I relented and let her nurse in the evenings again. Around Christmas I took that away again. Once that happened, she also became less interested in nursing in the morning. Partly because nursing once a day was not enough to keep the supply up – and partly because she was happy and rested each morning because she wasn’t woken by an alarm.
|Food goes in the mouth!
One day I told her that there was no more milk, and she accepted it pretty well. “Ingrid eaten it! In the mouth! And then the tummy!” she told me. She still talks about milk and boobs almost every day, though. Some days she asks to nurse and I remind her that there’s no more milk. She confirms: “Piim sai otsa. I Ingrids magen!” (“Milk all gone. In Ingrid’s tummy!”) Other days she just tells us, randomly in the middle of some totally unrelated conversation: “Pappa ingen tiss. Ingrid ingen tiss. Bara emme tiss, bara emmel on piim!” (“Daddy no boobs. Ingrid no boobs. Only mummy boobs, only mummy has milk!”)
That last quote is pretty representative of her liberal mixing of Swedish and Estonian. When talking to me, she almost always uses both languages in one sentence, even when she knows all the necessary words in one of the languages. Some words have always tended to always come out in Swedish, even when she’s generally speaking Estonian, and vice versa. But in general Swedish now dominates. She always speaks Swedish to herself, and often to me, too. I prompt her – “What’s that in Estonian?” – and generally she’s able to find the words, but in the next sentence she’s back to Swedish.
Now that she’s generally speaking well and confidently, I’m starting to sometimes ignore her when she speaks Swedish to me, waiting for her to repeat in Estonian. When she was younger I was happy when she spoke any language, but now I think she’s got a solid enough foundation, and I can be a bit more demanding.
It doesn’t help that she’s still very fond of TV (Teletubbies has now been complemented by Miffy) and spends about an hour in front of the screen every evening. That’s all in Swedish, which means we spend much less time reading Estonian books or singing Estonian songs. We’ve also lost our bedtime stories: she now prefers to lie quietly in her bed, next to me. Every evening I ask if she wants a story, but no, she wants me to lie down. Which means even less Estonian exposure.
And the books affect her language a lot. She’s often quoting Miffy or Alfons or something. Miffy is actually quite good for this, because unlike Teletubbies this movie uses proper grownup language. I think that (plus the novelty value) is why she now prefers it to Teletubbies.
When she isn’t quoting movies or books, a lot of her conversation has been small stories about sequences: of things that have happened, or things that tend to happen, or things that she intends to do.
Du ramla i sängen. Och så gjorde ont och du var ledsen. Och så hüüad Emme! ja emme tuleb. Siis emme sülle ja on parem.
You fell down in the bed. And it hurt and you were sad. And then you shout Mummy! and mummy comes. Then sit in mummy’s lap and it’s better.
Emme gå till jobbet. Pappa och Ingrid gå till dagis, och sen pappa gå till jobbet. Emme [???] eftermiddag [???] dagis och sen emme och Ingrid hem.
Mummy go to work. Daddy and Ingrid go to nursery, and then daddy go to work. Mummy [???] afternoon [???] nursery and then mummy and Ingrid home.
Ingrid’s current favourite activities apart from TV are jigsaws (still going strong), hide-and-seek, and cooking. She got a toy stove for Christmas, together with an assortment of pots, pans, spoons, and toy food. Apart from jigsaws, that’s the toy she uses most, by far. The toy food is a set of sandwich parts – bread, slices of egg, cheese, ham, tomatoes etc – all with small pieces of velcro so she can assemble a sandwich and play with it without it falling apart. And the sandwiches are just large enough to fit nicely in the pots and pans.
|Food not done yet
She potters around with her stove, making hot sandwiches: assembles several sandwiches, puts them in pots, then into the oven. Closes the oven, tells us that the food is not ready yet, and then reports that it’s time to check if the food is hot, and finally serves it to us or to her doll.
There seems to be no end to Ingrid’s interest in jigsaw puzzles, so we keep adding to her collection. Occasionally she still plays with her cube puzzles, too, but one’s almost too easy and the other one’s a bit too hard. She’s more interested in the jigsaws, anyway – and becoming really proficient, because she gets lots of practice.
She likes re-doing the same puzzles, unlike adults who generally do a puzzle once and then put it away and go on to the next one. With Ingrid it’s the opposite: the first time is less fun, and she needs a lot of support. Then she learns what the picture looks like, and how to look at each piece, and plays with it much more independently. After a while she knows the puzzle by heart, but that doesn’t diminish her enjoyment. She still likes assembling the farmyard picture, which was her first larger jigsaw (20 pieces), and she’s had it for almost two months. Some evenings she can assemble it four or five times, turning it over to begin again as soon as she’s finished. I think it takes her no more than a few minutes now.
|Surrounded by puzzles
But she does more than just memorise the puzzles. She has now learned the difference between edge pieces, corner pieces and middle pieces. She’s learned how to try different orientations when a piece should fit but doesn’t. And she’s learned to actually think about what she’s doing. It used to be that she grabbed a rather random piece and tried to put it somewhere random. If it didn’t fit, she tried something else. Now she looks at the puzzle, sees that she needs a piece of a flag, and looks for it – or takes a piece, checks if it’s something she recognises, and then tries to find a place for it. Great cognitive training! Plus it’s patience training, too: “Det är svårt! Den passar inte! Prova en annan bit.” she says to herself. (“It’s hard! It won’t fit! Try another piece.”) Her newest, largest puzzle has 48 pieces and last time it took her three or four evenings to finish it.
When she’s in the mood for something slightly more actively social, we play hide-and-seek (and it’s real hide-and-seek now, not like last month). It seems to be a favourite game at nursery, too: several days now when I’ve asked her what they’ve done, she tells me they’ve played hide-and-seek. At home at least, it’s almost always her counting and me hiding. She very much likes counting to ten, and she likes finding me, but she hasn’t quite understood how to hide, and mostly looks a bit confused when we try and switch roles.
Hide-and-seek actually has three roles, not two: in addition to the hider and the seeker, there’s the hinter. Ingrid’s patience and especially her imagination are still quite limited, so if she doesn’t find me within a minute or two, she gets confused and gives up. She hasn’t figured out the concept of looking again, more carefully: if she doesn’t see me at first glance, she concludes I can’t be there. That’s where the hinter comes in. “Could emme be in the bathroom? Go look in the bathroom again. Not there? Go look in the bedroom,” Eric says. That way I can find a slightly more interesting hiding place than just round the corner, and the game lasts a bit longer. When it’s just the two of us playing, it’s almost enough for me to go to another room, and some part of me needs to be immediately visible (like a foot sticking out from behind the sofa). When we have Eric as a hinter (or vice versa) I can hide under a sheet in the laundry room, etc.
Speaking of counting, she’s now also understood for real how to use numbers to count things. For quite a number of months she’s been able to tell me when there are two of something, but not beyond that, even though she could name the numbers beyond two. I think it’s because she could see “two” at a glance, without needing to count. Now she actually counts things, pointing at them with a finger. Occasionally the finger goes too fast and she touches two items for one count, and sometimes she loses track and skips an item, so quite often she reports having four fingers on a hand, but she’s definitely grasped the general principle. (For a short while the fingers were often six: she’d count them – one, two, three, four, five – and then loudly announce, SIX!)
It may sound like we spend all our time with pedagogical exercises and educational activities. We don’t. It’s just that Ingrid enjoys learning. One of us thinks “wouldn’t it be interesting to see what she thinks of X”, and we discover that she really enjoys X, and in the process of playing with X she learns stuff. One day Eric thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to see if she can understand the difference between left and right. It turns out that she could, so now she knows that as well. Other times we discover that she doesn’t enjoy X at all, so we forget about it and do something else.
When we need something more energetic, we wrestle and tumble and twirl. She’s too heavy for me to swing her by holding onto her hands, but I can still twirl her around that way. Or she runs in circles around me while holding my hands. Her goal seems to be to make herself as dizzy as possible, without falling down, which is why she wants to hold on to me: otherwise she reaches the falling-down stage much faster. My tolerance for twirling has improved massively over the last half-year. Still, she could keep going far longer than me, and then collapse in a heap of giggles.
She’s developing a giggly sort of sense of humour. I’m sure she’s had a sense of humour for a while, but it has been quiet and understated. Now there’s a lot of bubbly laughter, cheeky faces, and general monkeying around. She enjoys tickling, and making funny noises and faces, and silly games like me pretending to eat her toes and fingers.