Sometimes she seems like such a big girl, and at other times she is still so young and innocent. Her top idea of “fun” right now is the shallalooba game, which means getting naked and then wiggling her bottom at me (or whoever else is there) while shouting “shallalooba!”, accompanied by uncontrollable giggling.

Otherwise much of the past month has been focused on waiting for Christmas: the advent calendar, and the Christmas show they had at school, and of course Christmas itself. For at least two weeks up until the 1st of December she was talking about the advent calendar, worrying whether I would get it ready in time, asking if I could wrap the presents already, then inspecting the calendar and looking at the shapes of the different gifts.

I think the calendar (and Christmas Eve as well) are so important to her because she loves surprises. The important thing is not the gift, nor the act of giving and receiving, but the surprise. Anything gets better when wrapped in a surprise – and there is nothing that makes her as sad as a surprise revealed. This goes for dinner , for everyday things that I buy for her, goodnight stories, etc. Nowadays I never tell her in advance what I’m cooking, and instead let her lift the lid and uncover the surprise. And when I buy new socks for her, I do not say to her, “I bought some socks for you, here they are”. Instead I say that I bought her something today, or let her see the bag. Then we wait until we get home, and then she gets to open the bag.

The Christmas show was sort of the opposite – a surprise that she wanted to prepare for us. We knew about the show itself, of course, but she would not sing any of the songs for me in advance, even though they practiced them a lot at school. When she happened to hum a snatch of a Christmas song, she sometimes tried to cover it up and pretend she didn’t. Then she made sure to tell me that this was not all of it, and they will sing more of it during the show. In the end I got her to understand that the actual songs didn’t need to be surprises: it is OK to know what songs will be sung, it is the performance that matters. I think it was a bit of a relief for her when the show was over.

She actually had to stay home from school the day before the show, because she was knocked out by a fever. The day of the show she was still at home but feeling well enough that we went to school for the show itself, which was at 3pm. There was lots of singing and a bit of reciting of poems. Ingrid is, frankly, not much of a singer – she either doesn’t pay attention to or cannot really hear the details of the melody. She gets the lyrics right but sometimes sings them to some random tune. But her reciting stood out (to me at least) because unlike most kids her age, she speaks loudly and clearly and doesn’t rush, even when she is a bit nervous.

At home life is mostly unexciting. She plays with Adrian, watches movies and YouTube clips (quite a lot of Pingu recently), reads books and Bamse comics. She doesn’t ever play on her own.

Most of the time she is really patient with Adrian. She holds his hand when walking down slippery icy stairs; sings to him when he is upset; helps him get his clothes off when we get home. Other times she seems to enjoy winding him up and goading him with small things: repeatedly putting her foot on his chair even when he pushes it away again and again, etc.

Ingrid is a fast reader now and doesn’t even move her mouth while reading. She easily reads books of 30-40 pages, as long as each page is no more than a few paragraphs and has pictures. She does not like books without pictures. Even with books that she can and does read herself, she likes me to read them for her afterwards. Usually she reads each book once and then loses interest – she wants the surprise, again. I try to make a trip to the library every week or two.

On a few occasions I borrowed books for beginner readers, “Lätt att läsa”, but those were aimed at older readers and often dealt with topics she was less interested in (school, kids falling out and becoming friends again, etc). Now I choose kids’ books, with more fanciful stories and more adventure in them. These are really meant to be read aloud so they are longer and have more text on each page, but that’s not much of an obstacle for her, and she enjoys them much more.

I don’t think she’s been playing many iPad games recently. Perhaps because she has tired of the games we have – maybe it’s time to find some new ones. She did try Drop 7 one day when she saw me play it, and actually understood the game mechanics. When I last showed it to her, maybe a year ago, she didn’t get it at all.

Another game that she has learned is Yatzy. Yatzy and War (the card game) are her favourite games right now. War is totally luck-based but she still seems to enjoy it (and while this puzzles my adult self, I remember doing it myself when I was a kid). Yatzy is great maths practice, at just the right level for her: adding up numbers 1 to 6, up to 30. She has understood the concept and the purpose of grouping the points by fives and tens, to make the adding up easier.