The weather is chilly now, but the first half of this past month was still summery, and we spent a fair amount of time outside. Picking damsons was a favourite: Ingrid especially liked shaking the bush to make the damsons fall. It was particularly great if they fell on me or her. But picking the fallen fruit was also good fun.
We’ve also played in the play house that Eric built. Ingrid’s favourite use for it is a throwing platform. She climbs up, I stay outside, and then we throw a big inflatable ball between us. The play house makes it very easy: since she’s standing above me, she is throwing slightly downwards and has a good view of me, the target. And when I throw the ball back at her, the walls make sure the ball doesn’t roll past her.
She also likes riding her tricycle (to and from the playground, or Julia’s house). Practice makes perfect: she’s gotten quite good at controlling her speed. She used to need help braking when going downhill, but now she can ride it down good-sized hills at considerable speed, and push back against the pedals to brake when it goes too fast.
In general she’s gained physical control and confidence recently. She used to always want to hold my hands when jumping down (from a ledge, or a stone, etc) but the other day she jumped down from a knee-high step (my knee, not hers) without any help at all. The same goes for stepping across wide gaps: between the balance beams at the playground, or the big flat stones in the pond in our park. I think she’s running better, too: it looks slightly more balanced and less toddlerish.
Running, of course, means chasing. Our latest chasing game is the troll game. Usually she’s a troll and I am to run away from her. Sometimes she wants to be an angry troll, which means that I should run fast enough so she cannot catch me. Other times she says she’s a friendly troll, meaning I should let myself be caught. But in either case, and regardless of which of us is the troll, the most important part of of the game is that the chasee should frequently look over her shoulder to see how close the troll is. This leads to a fair few falls: I think Ingrid has entered the age of ever-present scabs on knees and elbows.
Ingrid remains intensely social. Yesterday she told me, “I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to be alone. I want my friends, too!” So I try to find her a playmate for at least a few afternoons each week. Julia is her best friend (and lives closest to us) but Ingrid’s found another favourite at nursery whom we’ve also visited a few times. I’ve asked if there are others she’d like to play with, but she says no, she only likes Julia and Elin.
They are definitely playing together, but it’s mostly limited to simple, physical activities. They might run to the trampoline and jump together, and then run to the see-saw together, and from there on to somewhere else. I haven’t seen any playing with toys together. I think it might be because both Julia and Elin are younger than her, and less used to playing together with others.
Sometimes “let’s go play with Julia” just means “let’s go to Julia’s house” and ends with us reading Julia’s books. I think we might start going to the library with her. Her Estonian feels solid enough that I’m happy reading to her in Swedish now.
At home, the doctor’s equipment set remains Ingrid’s favourite toy, by far. Other toys get occasional brief use, but not very much. She wants to play doctor every single evening. It’s become a set piece, almost. First I’m ill and she’s doctor, then we switch, and she’s always got a stomach ache. And when we take her temperature, it’s always fifty-one.
She’s quite interested in how numbers are used: temperatures, measuring, telling the time. She often asks me what time it is, and most mornings she asks me what day it is. Then she wants to know what that means: what do we do when it’s Tuesday, what do we do when it’s seven o’clock? Is it a weekday (“nursery day”) or weekend (“home day”)? Do we have anything special planned for today – is this the day when we go play with Elin, or the day when I need to work late? Sometimes we go on to hypothetical cases: she tells me “no, it’s half past eight! What’s it time for now?”
Turns out she’s learned to recognize numbers, too, even though we haven’t spent much time looking at them. This Sunday at the Estonian nursery she found a wooden number puzzle, with one piece for each number from zero to nine, and each number’s place was indicated by that number of things: there was one snake in the slot for number 1, two rabbits in the slot for 2, and so on. She got almost all of them right at first try (but 6, 8 and 9 were a bit tricky).
Another subject of fascination is buttons – the kind you press, not the ones on clothes. She likes pressing the buttons to make the traffic light go green, and doorbell buttons, too. But she also finds pretend buttons in all sorts of places: on lamp posts (to make the light go on), on her bike (to make it go), on playground equipment (to make the light go green, so she can go on and play).
And phones: she makes many phone calls on the toy phone they have at nursery, and on mine. She can repeat my side of the most important conversations (the ones where I call Julia’s mum to ask if Ingrid can come play with Julia) almost verbatim.
When she’s done that, she seems to believe that she really has called Julia’s mum, and insists that I don’t need to call, she’s done it already, and Julia’s mum has said yes. The border between truth and fantasy is fluid. When we play doctor, she is well aware that it’s make-believe sickness and make-believe medicine. But when she talks about things that aren’t physically present, she makes no difference between things that really happened, and things she has made up because she wishes they were true.
Somewhat related, I think, is her interest in what other people are thinking. When we pass someone in the street, who’s doing something noteworthy, she will ask me: where is he hurrying? why is she running? what are they talking about? I tell her I don’t know, but he might be hurrying to the train station, or to the market; and she adds her own guesses.
In general she’s asking more complex questions now. It’s not just “what is this”, “where is the spoon” and “can I play with this” but also “which station do we get off at”, “what did you just ask daddy”, “what is a folding rule” etc.
Speaking of questions, she’s already learned that when a stranger talks to her, they will inevitably ask for her name and age. So when someone asks a question that she doesn’t quite hear or understand, she will attempt to answer one of those known questions, and tell them her age or her full name. (And she knows her full name, with all four parts in the right order, too!)
There’s a fair amount of focus on her being a big girl and helping me. And the reverse, too: sometimes she tells me she is a small baby and needs help. Sometimes when we’re eating fruit (such as raspberries) she wants to feed me, or vice versa ask me to feed her. Sometimes she tells me that when she was a baby she drank milk from my breasts – and other times she tells me that she’s my mum and I used to be small and drink milk from her breasts.
She understands that children grow bigger, and then they go to school, and then they grow into adults. When asked, she can tell me that girls grow into mummies and boys grow into daddies. But I don’t think she’s quite understood it yet:
Kui mina suureks saan, siis saab minust emme. Ja kui ma veel suuremaks saan, siis saab minust pappa.
When I grow up, I will be a mummy. And when I grow even bigger, I will be a daddy.
Favourite books: Alfons, and Kringel (one of Eric’s old books), and Palle üksi maailmas. Favourite movie: Leiutajateküla Lotte.