Most of this month was happy and contented. But suddenly something changed, and the last few days have been less than fun. For a few hours everything is OK, and then suddenly Ingrid is unhappy about just about everything. I say it’s time to eat. She cries “I don’t want to eat!” I say “OK, you don’t have to eat.” She cries “But I want to eat!” I say, “You can eat or not eat, whichever you want.” She cries “I don’t want anything!” (“Ma ei taha mitte midagi!”) Even things I know she wants and likes get the same response. I’m sure it’s a phase, but I sure do hope it’s a brief one. Or perhaps it’s the heat.
Half of the month was spent in Estonia. And the experience did wonders to Ingrid’s language skills. At first she would mostly speak Swedish, and then be reminded by people around her that they didn’t understand her, after which she would try to repeat herself in Estonian, and I would help her out. After a week she was speaking Estonian almost all the time (only forgetting where she was first thing in the morning) and fluently. She now speaks Estonian more freely, has a bigger vocabulary and better grammar, and overall a more Estonian pattern (word order, sentence structure etc) when she speaks Estonian.
Our vacation in Estonia was also fun because she had playmates almost every day. Two of my childhood friends both have kids who are just a few months older than Ingrid. One of them lives in the building across the street from my father’s place, so we spent a lot of time together. Katariina may be only a few months older, but she’s more than a few months ahead of Ingrid, so it was an inspiring experience for Ingrid. She learned to play doctor, and shopping. She now has a doctor’s bag of her own, and has used it every day I think.
Both children had birthday parties while we were in Estonia, so we’ve also had a lot of pretend birthday parties, with a wooden chocolate cake and lots of fruit. Mostly it’s Ingrid’s birthday but sometimes I get to have one, too. The cake is one of those where the pieces attach to each other with velcro, and you can cut them apart with a little wooden knife. Ingrid’s long been fascinated with cutting (probably because she sees me do it so often) so she’s really enjoyed that. And today we discovered that a ripe watermelon is perfect for cutting practice, with a table knife.
Another favourite game is what I think of as the contrarian game, or the lying game. We might be looking at a page in a children’s book with all the different colours. She then points at each one and says “Black. Black. Black.” about all of them. Or points at red and says “green”, and so on (and if she accidentally says the right colour, such as “red” for a red thing, she stops, thinks, and “corrects” herself). Or perhaps we’re looking at pictures of animals, and all of them are cats. Or we’re eating dinner and she starts asking us: “Is that milk? Is that milk? Is that milk?” about everything but the milk.
Tartu had a lot of good playgrounds, with far more interesting stuff than we find at playgrounds around here, especially many more kinds of structures for climbing and balancing. Ingrid did some climbing but was more interested in balancing and swinging. She found a few swings that were just the right height for her to hang on, so she did that a lot. Plus she stomped a lot of sand cakes.
Ingrid’s interest in story books has declined somewhat. Instead she’s been much more interested in counting, and in learning to read. There was a lovely animal book at my father’s place, which became a counting toy for Ingrid. “Let’s count the antelopes. Now the zebras. Now the gnus. Now the elephants.” And so on. She’s good at counting now, rarely skips objects, even when they’re in an irregular bunch. Only sometimes does her finger move faster than her mouth, so while she touches, say, seven animals she only counts six.
The same book had headings with big bold capital letters, which we would read over and over again. Ingrid knows all the common letters but cannot make a word out of them, so she spells the word and I tell her what word the letters make. It’s good practice; as with counting, she very rarely loses her place and can spell very long words (such as Emajõe ärikeskus) without a single mistake. Sometimes she thinks she knows the word and pretends to read it, slowly dragging her finger along the word and slowly saying the word. Occasionally it’s right and other times it’s something completely wrong.
On the housekeeping side, we have had very few potty accidents (to the tune of one per week, and then mostly due to some special circumstance). The nighttime nappy is still almost always wet (and I think that’s why she gets restless and half-wakes around 6.30 to 7 in the morning, but I’m usually too sleepy myself to remember to ask her whether she wants to go potty). But after daytime naps, it’s almost always dry, so I’ve stopped insisting on it, and just sneak a folded towel underneath her when she’s fallen asleep.