Ingrid has been sort of sensitive this month, worried about loss, about being alone, about not being able to hold on to things forever. She has difficulty letting go of things, in case she can’t get them back, just in case she needs them later.
For about a week we had tearful good-byes in the morning when I dropped her off at preschool. Then she told me she didn’t want to go there at all. She wanted to be with me all the time – or, she suggested, a preschool where parents are welcome, too. Now we have a compromise where she is there for 3 days a week and stays at home with me the other days. Every morning she tells me she’d rather be with me. At home she tells me she doesn’t want to be alone, not even in another room.
Yet when she is forced to be on her own (e.g. when I put Adrian to bed on nights when Eric is away) she handles it very well. But even then her activities are social by their nature: often she will draw a picture or write a letter for me.
Most recently she’s drawn puzzles for me: the kind where there are, say, 3 kids and one apple and tangled lines from each kid, and you have to follow the lines to see which one gets the apple. Her versions have a castle as the “prize”, and various people/animals around it: for example a girl or two, a baby, and two squirrels with pine cones. When she draws, it’s still almost always girls or princesses.
She mentions (occasionally but not daily) that we will die before her, but that it is a long time till then. We’ve discussed that we probably won’t live to be a thousand years old, but might well reach a hundred, which, luckily, feels like an eternity for one who’s four.
She has started collecting things again. It used to be sticks and stones; now she also wants to keep empty egg cartons, the foil lids from yogurt pots, empty chewing gum bags, and most other empty jars and boxes. She wants me to save the shopping list after we’re done shopping. When she borrows my camera and happens to take a blurry photo, she tells me I mustn’t delete it. She got very upset the other day when I deleted some RSS messages with pretty photos from my inbox. Today when she saw me surf the web, she worriedly asked me if I would be throwing any pictures away.
Ingrid is, in general, not so good at handling adversity. She doesn’t like iPad games where she can fail (except if it is easy to try again, such as Angry Birds). She’d rather not try at all than try and fail. She skips the boring parts of movies; she has a tendency to walk away from conflicts with friends.
Writing remains a favourite activity. She likes writing lists, messages, letters etc. It’s becoming a normal and everyday thing for her. In terms of skill she’s at about the same level as last month. Sometimes what she writes is legible, other times she skips half the letters so I have to ask her to read it for me. Sometimes when she runs out of space she squeezes in letters wherever she can, so the letters of the second half of the word is interspersed between those of the first half.
She’s not so interested in reading, although she does try occasionally. Some words she knows by sight. When she tries to spell out an unknown word, she often gets tripped up by the names of letters. When she sees “KUU” she reads “KA, U, U” – “KAUU?”.
With numbers also she’s about where she used to be. She does simple sums with small numbers without a problem. But it’s interesting for me to see that she really has no feel for numbers, no intuition. We have a card game where you’re supposed to find numbers/cards that together make up 10. She has, say, 5, 7 and 8. She tries 5 and 7 – twelve, too much. She then tries 5 and 8, without even thinking that since 8 is more than 7, there’s no way that would get her closer to 10. But if given 1, 3, 8, she tries the combinations and then realizes that what she needs is between 1 and 3, that she needs a 2.
The cards in that game have both a number and the corresponding amount of some thing. (One hedgehog, two bikes, something like that.) When she adds, say, 2 and 8, she will always count the things on both cards. She knows that the card says 8, but she won’t count 8, 9, 10 only – she starts at 1 and counts every item. No shortcuts.
She likes composing things out of other things: decorating things with stickers, playing Fablescapes on the iPad. While I cook she often creates sculptures out of stuff in the kitchen. It started with matchbox towers; then she added spoons and tea sieves to that; the latest sculpture covered half the free space on the kitchen counter and was made up of about 15 things: tea jars, wooden spoons, etc etc.
Recently there have been fewer complaints about walking but she is not a fan, by far. At some point I suggested to her that what we really need is a pair of wings, and she adopted that idea completely. Now she often brings up wings whenever she tires of walking. Ideally she’d like wings that fly on their own, that you don’t need to flap – perhaps with hooks or handles where you can hang your bags too – and perhaps some sort of place for a baby, because they’re too young to have their own. Or perhaps a flying house (and then we discussed how many rooms it should have, and she told me that it absolutely needs windows so we can see where we’re going, and doors so we don’t fall out) or perhaps a flying armchair, with two seats like twin strollers, and a canopy for rain, and someplace to put our bags, and a tray table too. Unless she’s really really tired, these ideas take up enough of her attention to get us home without too much fuss.
She enjoys amusing Adrian. It makes her glad to see him look at her, or smile at her. She will put toys in front of him (or on top of him), wave them in front of him, etc. He mostly watches with bafflement.
She does not like wearing socks. I think her feet get too hot, and that she’d happily wear socks if she had thinner winter boots.
She likes nightgowns better than pyjamas.
She has discovered chewing gum, and loves it. Wrigley’s Extra with blueberry and pomegranate, or with strawberry flavour. In fact she likes berries in just about any form: blueberry jam is better than apple; raspberry juice is better than orange; ice cream, yogurt, etc.
She’s also discovered the concept of wish lists, and has a long one that contains everything from “a Swedish flag” and “a music box” to “plastic duck with wheels” and “pretend flowers”.