This month, after a long time of increasing frustration (on my part) and increasing obsession (on Ingrid’s part), I started an iPad fast. For just over a week, the iPads have been hidden and out of reach of the kids. Movie time is strictly limited, too, but movies haven’t been a problem in the same way as the iPads have.

YouTube was really the worst. It was just like having a TV in the house: mindlessly skipping from one channel to another, always finding something that is better than nothing, watching whatever happened to be on. And then at about 8 o’clock when iPad time ended, she realized she wanted to play a game, or to for me to read a book for her – except that by then it was too late. So effectively the iPad got the priority slot, and all other activities got whatever dribs and drabs were left over.

Ingrid’s first reaction was as expected, with both tears and whining. But then she adjusted, and now I don’t think she’s even mentioned it for several days.

I was aiming for an iPad-free week, but now I won’t reintroduce it unless the kids ask for it. And when that happens, it will be without YouTube.

Ingrid reads as much as ever. She still likes best the books that she can read from beginning to end in one sitting, and isn’t that fond of chapter books. She likes the feeling of completion, of achievement, I think: when she is reading a longer book, she often comes to me and proudly reports “look how far I’ve read already!”

When I read for her, she listens very attentively. Often she comments on the contents, and especially when she notices parallels to other things we’ve read or seen or experienced. She also asks about words she doesn’t understand.

Bedtime stories are an important part of our daily routine. After she’s brushed her teeth and gotten into her nightie, she gets into a bed, and I tell a story.

At first I used to read a story for her. Then we got to a point where Ingrid and Adrian would go to bed at the same time, and reading no longer worked: Adrian wouldn’t stay still if there was any light in the room, and nobody would get any closer to sleep. So then I’d retell old fairy tales instead. But I ran out of stories after a while, and started making them up.

Now we do that every night. Ingrid gets to pick a starting point, the thing she wants a story about. Often she wants an animal: a story about a cat, or a horse, or a dog and a wolf. And if her chosen starting point is not enough to get my imagination going, I ask for more starter ideas. So we’ve had stories about “a horse who gets stolen”, a “scary story about a dragon”, about a detective, “two squirrels who fall in love” (after watching Ice Age), “a ball who is alive and can talk, and all the other toys as well” and so on.

Sometimes we do the story with Adrian still awake, next to me, and then he often drifts off halfway through the story. Sometimes Ingrid comes upstairs just after Adrian has fallen asleep, and then I half-whisper while Adrian sleeps. When Adrian tires early, we may do the story in Ingrid’s bedroom.

By the end of it, anyway, Adrian is asleep and the story is over. After the story I lie next to Ingrid for a while, and she talks to me about whatever is on her mind – usually things that happened to her during the day.

Then we hug. She touches her nose to mine. We wish each other good night. As I go downstairs, she rolls over to Adrian’s side, and falls asleep while holding his hand.

The good night wishes get more and more elaborate. At first it was just “good night”. Now it’s “good night, sweet dreams, sleep well, have beautiful dreams” and “no, you have an even better night” and “twice as beautiful dreams for you” and so on.

Only this week she suddenly realized that the Estonian head ööd was made up of two actual words, “good” and “night”, not a meaningless sound of hedööd (“g’night”). head… ööd… ja head… und… she wonderingly said, “it’s ’good’ and ’night’!” Yes it is.

New skills:

  • Crocheting (chain stitch), nice and even. She crotcheted a pink and magenta bookmark for me.
  • Robber language.