After last month’s lack of attention, I’ve been taking notes. Not only does that help me remember the things I want to write about, it also brings out the recurring, dominant themes: language and social interactions.
Language, then. On the grammar front, she’s got a grip on first- and second-person pronouns now. She figured out du and jag in Swedish first (last month already, but I forgot to mention it then) but kept saying them the other way round in Estonian. Then a month later she got the Estonian pronouns, too. Third person pronouns are tricky – it and they are not a problem, but she mixes up she and he (in Swedish only, because Estonian doesn’t differentiate by gender). Part of the cause is, we think, that she isn’t really able to tell the difference between boys and girls, women and men, which means that our labelling people as he and she must seem pretty random to her. The other day we asked her “is X a boy or a girl” about other children in her nursery group, and the answers were near random. Same with the staff – she deemed Sandra and Malin to be mummies, Åsa to be a daddy but Niclas a mummy.
She manages to correctly use a suprising variety of verb forms in Estonian. In Swedish there are more irregular verbs to be grappled with, and it’s clear that she’s aware of the complexities. Sometimes she starts to use a regular pattern on an irregular verb (“jag sågde”) and then gets stuck because she hears or feels that it’s not quite right. Plural forms of nouns have similar traps: bokar instead of böcker, stenor vs. stenar.
Ingrid still likes word/sound games. The neighbour girls have the whole series of Mitt ABC and Ingrid always wants me to read those when we visit them. (There’s one book for each letter of the alphabet, and each book has stuff with that letter.) The books focus on first letters, but when Ingrid herself gets to decide, the important letter of each word is the strong, stressed sound. It’s not R as in raamat but A as in raamat, and O as in kook, Y as in cykel, and M as in emme.
Sometimes she also plays with songs – takes something like Idas visa (Lille katt, lille katt…) and makes it into Lille mus, or Nyss så träffa’ jag en krokodil might become Nyss så träffa’ jag en elefant. The changes are small, often just switching one animal for another.
The social aspects of language are becoming important to her. She’s picking up polite phrases and formulaic expressions, and using them a lot. “Jag tar gärna lite bröd”, “nej tack”, “jag tänkte titta på film”, “jag tycker att det är varmt idag”, “jag ska visa dig en sak”, “hej då vi ses imorgon”. (“I would like some bread”, “no thanks”, “I thought I’d watch a movie”, “I think it’s warm today”, “let me show you something”, “bye-bye see you tomorrow”.) It’s nice (and novel) to hear her ask politely, but at the same time slightly scary to think about how much our everyday behaviour affects her manners, already at this early age.
A few of these things she says without fully understanding them, but in general she’s good at using social language, asking or telling people things – language as a social tool, rather than just a way to express wants (“more milk!”) or comment on her environment (“there’s a big puddle”). There’s a fair amount of talk about yours, mine, and borrowing: “can I borrow your bucket”, “this is mine, you can’t take it, but you can borrow it”.
Unlike both Eric and myself, Ingrid is an extrovert, a very social creature. (It’s hard to remember but I think I was the same at her age. The introversion came later.) She’s never happier than when there are people around her, and she is bored when there aren’t any. Every day when I go to pick her up from nursery, one of the first things she says is “today we will go play with Julia” (the younger neighbour girl).
I: Jag vill leka med Julia.
H: Peab Julialt küsima, kas ta tahab meiega mängida.
I till J: Julia, vill du leka med mig idag?
I till H: Julia vill leka med mig idag!
H: Julia on selle üle rõõmus.
I: Jag är också glad! Jag är jätteglad!
I: I want to play with Julia.
H: We have to ask Julia if she wants to play with us.
I to J: Julia, do you want to play with me today?
H: Julia is happy about this.
I: I am also happy! I am very happy!
A lot of the time she still imitates or plays side by side rather than together with others. Whenever there are other kids at the playground, she trails them, and wants to do whatever they do. If they climb the jungle gym, she wants to do the same. If their mom catches them when they come down the slide, she wants to be caught, too. If they swing on a big kid swing, she will, too. If the other kid is a year and a half older than her and stands up on the bird’s nest swing, she will try that, too, even though she’s kind of scared.
Other popular activities: making sand cakes together with me and then happily stomping on them, one by one. “Now they are ready, now I can stomp?” Balancing on kerbstones, ledges, planks etc. Cycling on her tricycle. (The balance bike was quickly discarded – “It’s difficult! I cannot do it.” Perhaps next summer.)
Drawing, too: now it’s not just me drawing for her all the time. She’s more willing to draw herself, and she now draws actual things, not just scribbles and swirls. Sometimes she tries to copy something that an adult has drawn for her, but other times she comes up with her own ideas. Mostly they are relatively shapeless things, but she says they are balls, clouds, snakes, or hot dogs or cupboards. She’s also bolder in her drawings, more likely to draw huge balls that cover the entire piece of A2-size paper. (We bought a roll of cheap paper from IKEA for the easel, and often cut pieces from it for drawing, too.) When I draw for her, she likes to choose the colour for me. I get to draw a lot of purple and pink stuff. When I’ve finished, she likes to colour in my drawing.
- Does not like jokes about eating her up. Sometimes she just looks scared/worried, and sometimes she says “No, you cannot eat me!”
- Likes Bendicks Bittermints, dark chocolate, and liquorice.
- Does not like having her hair brushed, but no longer objects to brushing teeth, at all.