It feels like a step change has taken place. Ingrid has matured, and realized that being nice to people has advantages, that “thank you” and “please” work. Previously she’d first order us around and, when we pushed back, swung to the opposite extreme and asked us with a honeyed voice and overdone politeness. “Please dear mummy could you be so kind as to help me.” Now she just asks nicely straight away.

Likewise she sometimes remembers to thank me when I do something for her, or buy clothes for her, etc. Occasionally she even remembers to compliment us on the food. Mostly it’s something like “I liked the pasta. The sauce wasn’t so good but the pasta was good” but still, that’s something.

For some reason she’s become picky with food. She used to eat pretty much everything we served, except for a few things that I knew she didn’t like. (Squishy things like courgettes and aubergines, and leaves, which covered everything from spinach to lettuce to chopped parsley.) Now she is almost as bad as Adrian and eats starches (pasta, rice, bread, potato), meatballs, and possibly one or two vegetables (bell peppers, peas, sweetcorn). And fruit, luckily.

I think this may tie in with her general tendency right now to want everything to be just so. If her new toothbrush isn’t perfect, just the way she imagined it, it’s no good. If I serve a favourite dish of hers but it comes out not exactly like last time, it’s no good. Etc.

She is distracted and there seems to be a lot going on in her head. Meals take forever, because she forgets to eat. She starts talking about something (to us, or just to herself), climbs down from the chair because some rope needs to be straightened out just so because her doll needs it as a lifeline, or she is too busy trying to balance a strand of spaghetti just so on her fork. At night when going to bed, the soft toys in her bed have to be lined up and organized just so, and a running commentary is going on throughout.

Interestingly she has no trouble coming up with things to do when she already has something to do (such as eating, or getting dressed). It’s when she is not busy that she has trouble entertaining herself. But she’s become better at that, too. She doesn’t start talking about watching TV as soon as she’s done eating breakfast, and has actually managed some days completely without TV.

Ingrid’s quite preoccupied with bodily hurts. At the end of each day at preschool the first thing she will tell me is which parts of her body she hurt and how many times. When she summarizes her Sunday morning judo session it’s all about counting bruises and falls, rather than remembering what was fun.

She has been more interested than usual in buying things and in the concept of money. She’s had an allowance (10kr every Saturday) since her 5th birthday. Sometimes she’s been more interested and sometimes less. Now she’s used up all her money and actually bought one thing on credit. (A pony ride when we went to the circus: 30kr, a waste for 2 minutes’ ride in my opinion, but not in hers. Since it was a unique opportunity I let her borrow 30kr from me.) She has started talking about saving up some money to buy something bigger (such as one of those large shiny helium-filled balloons) but fiscal discipline is not coming easily to her.

A friend of hers had a miniature backyard sale of old toys. Ingrid wanted to do the same with her old toys and clothes but I vetoed the idea because I want to keep most of them for Adrian. But I suggested that she could earn some extra money by doing chores. Specifically I’d pay her 1kr for setting the table, and 1kr for clearing it after a meal. She earned 5kr in total but now her interest has waned.

She likes to talk funny (imitating some dialect or accent that I can’t place right now) and walk funny (knock-kneed, toes turned in).

She likes tattoos, both the kinds you transfer with water and home-made ones (with face paint), and almost always has one on her arm or hand. Every time she gets one, she wants me to take a photo of it – she is not happy about the impermanence of these things.

She’s started describing herself as “not so good at” all sorts of things – things she can do reasonably well (cutting her food), things she hasn’t practised much (speaking English), and things she’s never tried (karate). This must be something she picked up from preschool. I didn’t say anything initially but now I object and explain what “not so good at” means and what the difference is between not having tried, not having practised much yet, and actually not being good at something.

Self-portrait