Quote: “Pink, pink, other colour, pink, pink, other colour, pink…”
This month saw the arrival of the era of Pink and Princesses.
Ingrid has never cared much for pink – whenever she mentioned a favourite colour, it was always green, and when she chose clothes she mostly went for green or red or brown. Now she says that pink is the prettiest colour and purple is pretty, too. Peer pressure begins its work.
And princesses. She’s loved fairy tales for a while, with all their magical ingredients: kings and queens, princes and princesses, dragons and magicians. Now it’s all princesses. She wants princess colouring books and princess stories, and so on.
I would be gagging already but luckily there is a Swedish series of children’s books about unconventional princesses. The first book is titled Så gör prinsessor or Princesses do that, and talks about a princess who, admittedly, begins her day by choosing a dress and a crown and brushing her hair 1000 times, but then goes on to scare away robbers, tame a dragon and rescue a prince. (Have a look at Prinsessor.nu for more.)
Here in Estonia she also found a princess book that she wanted to buy and I most happily agreed: it was full of Disney princesses teaching about manners. Snow White teaches table manners to the seven dwarves, Ariel learns about apologizing, Cinderella’s mouse friends talk about being friendly and nice. Quite a good idea. (Amazon US, Amazon UK, Apollo.ee)
I think the summer break might let the pink princess wave abate somewhat. There hasn’t been much talk about pink at all during the past 10 days or so. We’ll see what happens when she’s back at nursery.
Other things Ingrid has learned from the kids at nursery: (if you don’t do x) “then you can’t come to my party”. Social blackmail already.
Also possibly from nursery, or possibly an independent invention: roars of opposition. When she wants to be very clear about not agreeing to whatever it is, she turns to face me directly and lets out a deep chesty roar/growl. No tantrum, no yelling, just a roar.
At nursery she’d almost always greet me in the afternoon with “Emme can Majken come home to us?” or “Emme can I go home with Julia?” (often followed by “Emme you will not come with me”). Even 8 hours at nursery surrounded by people is not enough for her. Totally my opposite.
Now during the summer break she misses her friends from nursery. Luckily she has a good friend here in Estonia too, just a few months older than her. It took them a little while to “find” their relationship again, after a year’s absence, and of course we will be going home soon… but they’re having fun in the meantime.
When I look for a thread/pattern in her interactions with her friends, I see a focus on identity and comparisons. Several times they have swapped names – “Emme, now I am Julia and she is Ingrid”. Once she’d swapped clothes with a friend, which was quite funny – my brain had real trouble with resolving the situation. Majken in Ingrid’s clothes looked weirdly wrong, and I couldn’t find Ingrid among the crowd of 10 other fair-haired kids, because my eyes would always glide back to the familiar clothes.
Often it’s about being/doing/having just the same as the other girl. The other kid wants a banana? Ingrid must have a banana, too. The other kid decides to draw with a green pen? Ingrid also wants a green pen. The other kid finds a snail on the path? Ingrid wants to find a snail.
Sometimes it’s all about being first. “No I want to be the first to the door! No I want my milk first!” I find myself halving plums, and turning away from them while pouring milk in two glasses so they can’t see who got their milk first.
An interesting behaviour I’ve noticed is covering her ears and telling us “you mustn’t say that”. Sometimes it’s when I repeat an unpleasant truth, or remind her of something she must or must not do, but it can also happen when I comment on something she’s done well (washed her hands after going to the loo, etc). Is it because she doesn’t want to think about the unpleasantness more than absolutely necessary? Or does she want it to feel like she did it all on her own, not because we nagged her about it?
Myself with baby
Ingrid still draws a lot. When she draws on her own, it’s mostly people. They are now much more detailed: there is hair, fingers and toes, sometimes fingernails, boobs and navels, ears, necks etc. When she draws me, she will often also draw a baby in my belly. Not all of the body parts are always present, but I don’t think I’ve seen her draw a single tadpole this month. From blobs to mum-with-fingernails-and-baby in under two months.
Often she draws together with me or Eric. (Anything you can do on your own, Ingrid will want to do together with someone.) Sometimes it’s complementary drawing, but more often it’s parallel drawing. Complementary: Eric draws a train, Ingrid draws a passenger. Parallel: I draw a bus, Ingrid draws a bus; I draw a car, Ingrid draws a car. Quite often she will proceed to cut out the thing she has drawn.
Colouring books are not of much interest, but the princess series (see above) has a painting book that she likes. Each page has half a picture or a scene, that the kids then complete – a dinner table with no guests, or the princess’s half-empty wardrobe, or half the head of a dragon. This is not only fun for Ingrid but a great help for me, when my head is too tired to come up with ideas.
Ingrid got her own room this month, with a bed of her own, and an alphabet rug that she has longed for. She bravely said she would sleep in her own bed, but until now she’s ended up with us every night, some time in the early morning hours. Since she mostly manages to do it quietly and without disturbing us much, and there is more than enough space, I’m not bothered.
Otherwise the trend towards slowly increasing independence continues. (She gets more practice now that my pregnancy makes me tired.) She’s a lot more willing to do things with other adults, without me being present: with Eric of course, but also other kids’ mums, and her grandmother and step-grandmother, etc. Last year when we were in Estonia I hardly had a free moment; now I could nap for an hour after an exhausting morning, while she was out picking berries and playing with her step-grandmother. She’s also more accepting of my need to get things done, and negotiates around them: “first you cook a little dinner, then you read a little, then you cook some more, then you read again”.
In other news this month, I discovered brown spots on her teeth and we went to see the dentist. I was fearing the worst but there were no cavities, luckily, just weak tooth enamel. I guess she’s inherited my poor teeth. So now we’re even more diligent with brushing her teeth, and more restrictive about snacks between mealtimes. I used to let her snack on fruit pretty much as she wanted, except just before a meal. Not any more.
Favourite movies: old Disney shorts, which she could watch forever, and Fem myror är fler än fyra elefanter (like a Swedish Sesame Street). She likes to watch the same few episodes over and over again: A and 7, P and X and 6.
New and improved skills: buckling her bicycle helmet. Knowing the names of all weekdays, in the right order, in Swedish but not yet in Estonian. Cutting veggies without any help (but with close oversight) – hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, string beans and rhubarb stalks have been great practice material. Catching a large ball, and throwing it back to me. Almost manages to make a swing go: she can make it happen for a short while but then loses the rhythm.
Favourite foodstuffs: raspberries, ice cream, blueberries (but the garden kind, not the wild ones). Anything with ketchup.