Thirty-six months; three years. This morning we had a cupcake with candles, and a present, and the Swedish “happy birthday” song. There was more hoopla about her birthday at nursery (the birthday song again, plus wearing a gold crown during their morning music session, plus her photo on the door, plus balloons). Then in the evening various sets of friends and relatives phoned us to wish her happy birthday. And we have two birthday parties planned for this weekend – one for family, one for her friends.
Ingrid’s number one focus this month has been her friends. She loves playing with Julia and Elin, more than any other activity, and would happily spend every single afternoon at their houses. For a month now I’ve been wanting to take her to the library, but the days when the library is open longer in the evening always happen to be the same ones when we run into Julia when leaving the nursery, and inevitably she chooses playing with Julia over visiting the library. So we still haven’t been to the library.
Sometimes she just wants to be with them, not necessarily to do anything together with them. It’s enough to be in the same room and listen to me read the same book. Or perhaps it’s just fun to play with someone else’s toys, and read someone else’s books.
She likes Julia best, but she plays better with Elin. Last time we visited Elin, they ran off together for long enough to make me wish I had brought a book. They went outside on their own, and then came back and played with their toy china and food, and then something else.
Clearly she is becoming more independent – the first inklings I noticed two months ago were not a false dawn. When I cook dinner (and she isn’t in the mood for helping me) she doesn’t just hang around next to me but goes off and plays on her own. And she won’t always follow me when I tell her I’m off to do something or other in another part of the house.
But quite often she is interested in helping me cook. Tasting the ingredients, handing me things, turning on the kettle, putting chopped veggies in the pot, stirring. Pouring things where the quantity doesn’t have to be precise, and the liquid is thick: cream, oil, vegetable broth. Serving food when it’s done – she especially enjoys ladling up soups and sauces. She’s even started to learn how to use a real sharp knife, with relatively soft stuff like cheese, tomatoes, leeks etc, under close supervision, and with my hands over hers. At dinnertime she really enjoys taking out a match for me to light the candle. I can see that she longs to be allowed to strike the match herself, but she makes no attempts to actually do it. That’s one of the advantages of her not being very independent: I can let her practice with knives and matches without having to worry that she will get a chance to try them on her own.
There’s a lot of make believe going on when she’s playing on her own, or by my side while I do something else. “We’ll pretend that I am a mouse” or “it’s your birthday, and you will get a present” and so on. A common theme is reversing our roles: she pretends that she is my mummy, and tells me what she will help me do. She also pretend sings: makes loud nonsense noises in something that is supposed to resemble a melody. (She can sing for real, too – this is different.)
|Little Miss Medicine Man
When we play together, it is almost always one of two things: doctor, or shop. I don’t think there’s been a single evening without these two. The doctor game still follows a stable template, but the template has been mutating. Now it’s her foot that’s ill, more often than the stomach. And the patient (whether it’s me or her) needs to get a cuddly animal to hug, and a piece of toy candy when the doctor is done.
A few weeks ago I bought some toy money for her, and since then, playing shop has been another huge favourite. This game is slightly more varied than the doctor game. We have toy shops, and food shops, and cuddly animal shops. We even have shops that sell doctor’s equipment. We take turns being shopkeeper and customer, and we make up prices for the stuff we sell. We have a stool as counter, and a bowl for the shopkeeper to put money in, and a little purse for the customer. When the customer runs out of money she just grabs some more from the shopkeeper’s bowl.
When Ingrid is shopkeeper, most things tend to cost one, two, or maybe rarely three kronor. Sometimes she cannot come up with a price and I can pretty much name my own price. “Does this cost 5 kronor, perhaps?” She’s noticed that the coins have numbers on them, and I’ve been suggesting prices that are either 1, 5 or 10 kronor (one coin) or a few 1-krona coins, to hint that there is some logic behind the whole thing.
Speaking of counting, we still talk about weekdays and time of day, but not at all as much as last month.
|Fine dining: meatballs at IKEA
I don’t think we’ve done any drawing at all this month, and barely any painting or crafts. We hardly sing at all, although she has played with her triangle a few times. We do still read and watch movies. Favourite books: Pettson får julbesök, Apan Nicke och Raffi Giraff and Vem ska trösta knyttet?. Favourite movie for the last two weeks: Mickey’s birthday party.
A few days ago, Ingrid visited the dentist for the first time in her life. The dentist confirmed that all twenty milk teeth were present (the last two appeared during this past month) and spent the rest of the time telling me about all the things we shouldn’t do. I think ideally dentists would like people to live on water only.
Quite independently of the dentist we (or rather, me) are making an effort to cut down on the amount of sweet stuff she eats. Her afternoon snacks used to be pretty healthy but then somehow she got into the habit of eating her fill of biscuits every afternoon. I thought it would be a temporary thing, as with most her preferences, but it’s gone on for longer than I like, so I’ve put an end to it.
She no longer takes any daytime naps at home at all. I’ve been trying to convince the nursery staff to not let her nap there, either, but without much luck. As a result she usually won’t fall asleep until 9 or 9:30 in the evening, which leaves her tired most mornings. Weekends, she is very fond of lying in the bed for a long time after waking, cuddling up close to me.