Since Ingrid had her birthday parties a month ago, there has been a lot of talk about birthdays, parties, presents etc. We’ve had numerous play birthday parties (mostly for me, and sometimes for her, and sometimes for Eric). Mostly I get to be three years old. Of course I get presents, and there has to be cake or candy, and sometimes she serves us a fruit drink, too.
The most popular present, especially during the first two weeks, was the harmonica. The next most popular one was the box that her ukulele came in. It is mostly used as a play present at my play birthdays. The ukulele itself is rarely used, once the novelty value evaporated. The third most popular present was the rolled-up picture that came with a big jigsaw puzzle: it can be rolled, unrolled, used as a telescope, and the rubber band around it can be put on and taken off. We’ve also had fun with all the balloons we blew up for the birthday party – we stuffed them all in the corner behind the sofa, so it became a balloon pit. The presents (apart from a book) have mostly been forgotten already.
Other popular toys include horse chestnuts, marbles, bags and boxes: putting small things in bigger things and carrying them around. Wooden sticks and chestnuts are important possessions and have to be carefully kept account of.
She uses her toy food and doctor’s equipment reasonably often, and we play shop, too. And she’s now started to carry around dolls and/or stuffed animals and telling me that they’re her babies. The babies need to be put to bed at night, and quite often they want to come with us wherever we’re going. Oh, and of course they want to sit on my lap.
She’s been fascinated with police, ambulances and firefighters. She points out every single police car and ambulance we pass, and I think they have books and pictures of these things at nursery.
Shortly after Halloween they had a dress-up day at nursery. They had one last year, too, and Ingrid went as a tiger. This year I asked her what she wanted to be. First she wanted to be a tiger again, but I suggested that maybe she could be something new this time. A cow? A cat? A zebra, I suggested? No, she said, a fly! Well, maybe a bee? or a butterfly, or a ladybug? No, I want to be a fly. Or a police car! Hmm, how about a policeman instead of a police car? (The Estonian and Swedish words are gender-neutral.) Yes, yes, a policeman! I want to be a policeman! So that’s what she was.
Slowly slowly she’s spending more time playing on her own. (Bear in mind that “more” is a very relative term here.) When she plays, she’s commenting on her own play all the time: “this is a boat, now I’m going to take the boat to Estonia” or “This is my baby. The baby wants to be with mummy.”
Occasionally she wants to be a baby herself: “I am a baby, you have to feed me!” But those are exceptions. Most of the time Ingrid wants to do things herself, of course. She’s quite proficient at pouring milk and cutting up her potatoes. (She is, by the way, clearly right-handed now and switches much less between hands than she used to.)
When dressing herself she knows that there’s a right way round and a wrong way round, and that the tags need to end up behind her. She can manage gloves and snowsuit on her own, although finding the thumb can be tricky, and she definitely needs help getting the zipper in place. Boots and shoes, for some reason, she can put on perfectly well, but doesn’t like taking off. An aversion to getting her hands muddy, perhaps? On the other hand she likes to help us with our clothes – in the mornings she often wants to run and fetch clean underwear for both Eric and myself, as well as my dressing gown. She likes pressing the lift buttons in the train station, and knows well that U (upp) means up, N (ned) means down and D (dörr) means door.
At times helpfulness devolves into bossiness. She wants to walk ahead of me (and then sometimes stop and block my way, when she suddenly feels contrarian). She wants to decide what I will wear, which towel I will dry my hands with, and what book I will read while waiting for her to fall asleep. “But you must wear these!” “You must read this book!” It is a struggle for her to understand why I don’t accept her orders, and why I don’t like the tone she uses. We don’t require much in the way of formal manners (trying mostly to teach by setting a good example) but we do demand a polite tone of voice.
Speaking of speaking, her Estonian is coming along almost as well as Swedish, even though she speaks Swedish all day, and I read to her in Swedish when she picks a Swedish book. I’m impressed by her command of Estonian grammar, with all the tenses and declinations and so on. She switches liberally between the two languages – sometimes every other sentence is in Estonian and every other in Swedish – but rarely mixes them up. She really only does that when she starts a sentence in one language (for example, telling Eric in Swedish about something we’ve done during the afternoon) and then midway through comes to a crucial word she doesn’t know in that language.
Wheelybyg, bedded down for the night
She has fun with language and words. Quite often she sings to herself: sometimes real songs, sometimes just nonsense words to a random melody. We play a game where she makes up nonsense words, preferably really long ones, and then I try to repeat them back at her. The word can be anything from “kveya” to “gananga-nanga-nii”, and sometimes I find them rather unpronounceable.
Favourite movie: Coraline (“koyoyine”). I think she’s actually starting to distinguish some words in the English-language movies she watches. One day she was shuffling some papers around and intoning, “Bobinsky, Bobinsky, Bobinsky…” just like Coraline does when sorting letters. Today she picked up “fist!” from Kung Fu Panda (“Maybe you should chew… on my fist!”) It would be cool if she learned to speak English before she started school.
Favourite books: nothing in particular, or rather, many of them. We’ve been to the library a few times, so we’ve had some new books to read (and of course when we first read them we have to read the same book at least three times in a row, more likely five) but we’ve re-read many of the old ones.
Random fact of the month: she has decided she now wants to sit on a grown-up kitchen chair like us, not her highchair. However when we go to a restaurant she always asks for a highchair. Go figure.