Phew. Back to normal. Ingrid is her usual self again: occasionally volatile, sometimes whingy, but generally a happy girl. Life is much much more pleasant.
Ingrid’s latest “thing” is singing. We used to sing a lot, but then lost that habit somehow. Now it’s back again. A lot of Christmas songs, naturally: they’ve been practising for the Lucia celebrations at preschool for several weeks. A lot of Santa Lucia of course, but I also get to hear En sockerbagare, Tre gubbar and Tipp tapp frequently. Other non-Christmas favourites include Jungfru, jungfru skär, Tingelingelinge tåget far and the eternal Blinka lilla stjärna.
She particularly likes to sing while sitting in the sledge on our way to or from preschool. Today, when one of her friends accompanied us home for the afternoon, the two of them kept looping Jungfru, jungfru skär almost all the way home. Very uplifting!
She also likes to experiment with singing. Take a snatch of lyrics of an existing song and then sing and speak them over and over again, while varying everything that can possibly be varied: melody, pitch, speed, rhythm, stress, tone of voice etc. Or she mangles the lyrics, and twists each word into something vaguely similar-sounding but not quite: “Bjällerklang, bjällerklang” becomes “Pelikan, pelikan” and so on. Or she picks a random phrase and then sings that. Yesterday’s phrase was “tvätta mina tår” – “wash my toes”; this Monday she was singing “så såg jag smutsig ut i hopbyggnaden” – “so I looked dirty in the construction”. Go figure. This can often go on for a good while in the background while she is half-busy doing something.
She still plays with words, too, with rhymes and alliteration. “Jag vill ha mjölk” becomes “Na nill na nölk” etc. Me she now calls “mammis” – the Swedish mamma has replaced the Estonian emme, and then acquired the -is suffix (which is a very common and productive one in Swedish). She’s started picking words apart: she’s noted that both Barkarby and Vällingby (place names near where we live) have “by” in them, and Vällingby is made up of välling (“gruel”) and by.
In Swedish and Estonian, she’s started asking me what words mean. Usually she’s just picked them up and used them. But now with more abstract concepts, it’s not so obvious what people mean when they say a word or a phrase. For example, nära ögat (“near escape”, literally “near the eye”) and umbes (“approximately, roughly”) and typ (“sort of”). “Nära ögat” in particular seems to resonate with her: once I’d explained it for her, she started using it several times every day.
She’s learned to count in English. Up to 12 she gets them right every time; after that she usually needs a bit of prompting. She also picks up snatches of English from movies occasionally: everything from “You’ll never catch me” (from Disney’s The tortoise and the hare) to the Happy Birthday song (again from Disney, Pluto’s Party).
A few days ago, she got a simple calculator together with the fifteenth and last of her 1-2-3 books. It only has the digits 0 to 9, plus, minus and equals. She likes it a lot and has played with it daily. It’s not rare for her to mistype some number or press the wrong key somewhere and then tell me that 3 plus 4 equals 38, or something like that. I try to teach her the habit of first thinking for herself what the answer should be and then check with the calculator, rather than just blindly trust it. We’ll see if that catches on.
At preschool they have a maths project. They’ve split the large group into three smaller ones, each with a different theme. Ingrid’s group focuses on “short and long”. (The others have “light and heavy” and “time” as their themes.) They measure stuff in various ways, draw long things and short things etc. It’s made some sort of impression on Ingrid: several times she’s spontaneously reflected on the different sizes of things, said which one is shorter than the other etc.
She’s also interested in what things are made of, in materials, mostly in the context of which things will break and which won’t. “This cup is made of china. It is rather fragile.” “The fork is made of metal. It is hard. Look, I can do like this [tries to bend fork] but it won’t break. But if it fell from the roof all the way to the street, then it would break?” Glass, china, metal, wood, paper, fabric, clay – those are the materials that have come up at some point.
For a while we did a lot of crafts – cutting, glueing, painting – but then I think she tired and we haven’t done much in the past week or so.
For a while she was very interested in names, and still is to some extent. She picks or makes up pretty names for me / herself / her dolls: her favourites include Evelisa, Evelina, Rosetta and Josefin. Always girls’ names. Sometimes when she thinks of a particularly pretty name, she tells me that when I have another baby, if it is a girl baby, we should give her that name.
We also still play the role reversal game, where she is the mummy and I get to be big sister. Mostly it means that I should talk a lot and ask her questions about stuff, the way she does – “Mummy why does that man not have a hat”, “Mummy are we there yet”, and so on. And that is hard! I cannot blather like a 4-year-old. I get tired of that game pretty quickly.
She has begun to play a lot with her food and utensils, to the point where I often have to remind her to eat. “Just det, jag glömde det!” she says. The spoon is a playground slide, or a bridge, or the hands of a clock. The plate is a sea, or a sandbox. The piece of cookie is a shoe, or a sheep.
She is, still, most unwilling to play on her own. She’d rather complain that she has nothing to do than walk up the stairs to her room to get a toy. But when it’s time to do something – get dressed, brush her teeth, go to bed – she’s all play and silliness.
One thing I forgot to mention last month: we stopped using night nappies around her birthday, and this time it’s worked. But it requires one of us (Eric, or sometimes me) to take her to the loo a few hours after she falls asleep.