Everybody has a smartphone these days. I don’t. And I have no intention of getting one, even though I kind of like our iPads, especially for long car trips, or for that “dead time” up in the bedroom waiting for Adrian to fall asleep.

Everybody has a smartphone, and it’s always in their hands. In the train station, half the people are blipping on their phones, playing whatever latest game they have. Once on the train, even more people take their phones out. Eyes down, no contact with the world around them.

Friends sitting at a café, next to each other, each one with a phone in their hands. Mums on the train with their babies, ignoring the baby’s talk and even cries, blipping on their phones.

In the street you can easily spot them from a distance: it’s the people who are walking slightly too slowly, absent-mindedly, not quite in a straight line, getting in others’ way because they don’t even look up to see where they’re going.

I am by now so fed up with seeing this incessant phone-blipping everywhere that, by extension, I am fed up with the idea of smartphones. I feel a twinge of distaste when I think of them.

You could say that it’s not the phone’s fault. It’s the people using the phone. But at the same time it is inherent in technology that it changes our behaviour. Smartphones are made to be always with you, always on, always offering that titbit of entertainment, of distraction. The constant blipping is part of the soul of the smartphone.

For the same reason I resisted buying a car for many years. Owning a car changes your behaviour. Yes, it enables lots of new things, good things, nice things – but there is no denying that now that we own a car, we cycle much less.

Once you have acquired this subtly life-changing technology, it weasels its way into your habits, and will be difficult to get rid of. You own the thing, and the thing owns you. Even though I don’t like owning a car, I would not get rid of ours, now that we have it.

Or perhaps this is just general age-related Luddism. All these new-fangled gadgets! Kids these days! Etc etc.

Picnic, strawberries, dancing around the maypole, and a train ride with Lennakatten, a museum train near Uppsala.

Adrian is very much in a deciding mood right now. It is important for him to decide about all kinds of things. Primarily he decides about his own life, of course, the small things that a child can decide. But he also wants to decide what other people should do, and how. Things should be done just so and not any other way!

I used my fingers to hold a potato I was cutting up for him, instead of holding it with a fork, and this was so totally wrong that he was in tears. Du ska göra så, inte så! And the corn flakes need to be poured in his bowl before the oat squares, not after. (Or was it the other way round? I’m not sure any more…) It is also important to him do do things on his own, nej inte du, bara jag! just like last month. So now I usually confirm with him before I do anything that I think might affect him.

This has led to him offering me choices about all sorts of things, too. It’s always either-or choices. “Do you like this stone or this one?” Vill du ha den eller den? Do I want a small piece of bread or a large one? Do I want a skirt or trousers?

Of course there are also the things that don’t really affect him, but that he cares strongly about nevertheless. I want to change out of my office clothes when I get home; Adrian doesn’t think I should. Adrian doesn’t think Ingrid should stand where she is standing. Adrian doesn’t think others should talk funny, only he is allowed to do that. Sometimes I humour him; sometimes I really want to make my own decisions. Lots of drama and tears.

When he wants to get me to do something, and the first attempt does not work, he tries different strategies. Sometimes he does it the Ingrid way and asks with exagerrated politeness: snälla kan du göra det. Sometimes he shouts orders: du SKA göra det! Sometimes he just yells: GÖR DET! Sometimes he simply screeches.

He likes talking funny and making funny noises. Also he likes talking like a baby. Jag är bäbis, he tells us. They play mum and dad and baby at nursery, and I guess he is usually the baby.

He seems to enjoy this kind of pretending, but mostly in company with other kids. Sometimes he is a baby. Other times he is a tiger that roars. Sometimes he is a pirate who says “hah-haa!” like Pippi Longstocking does in the movie. Then he asks me if it was too scary and if I say yes, he does it more quietly and gently the next time.

But these things should be done the right way. Only he talks funny; he doesn’t like us mimicking him. When he serves us toy food, we should pretend to eat it the right way, with the right pretend sounds. Not too realistically! “Only pretend” he admonishes when our mouth goes too near the toy corn cob.

He is interested in sizes. He talks about things being big or small, or medium (litemellan) or just right (lagom).

Adrian is also interested in names. Whenever he decides to talk to some stranger (such as the cashier at the supermarket, or some mom at the playground, or the man sitting next to us on the train) he asks for their name. Quite often they reply and then ask him the same. Usually he answers Adrian, but sometimes he also says he is lillebror, “little brother”.

He also asks me about others’ names: people we pass in the street, people in newspaper photos, in ads, and so on. And he often asks me about who lives in what house. Of course we pass a number of houses where we know the people: his friends, our neighbours, and so on. Some of them he knows perfectly well but he still likes to ask me. But he also asks me about strangers’ houses, and when I say I don’t know, he sometimes informs me that people live there, or a man, or a woman.

When someone asks him how old he is, he says he is two, and holds up two fingers. Now he has also sort of understood three: he knows that the older kids at nursery are now three years old, and he can hold up three fingers. Sometimes he can correctly say when there are three of something, such as potatoes on his plate, but sometimes he also says three when it’s really four.

On two occasions recently he has surprised me by trying new food. Once he ate sugar snap peas. And once he actually ate real cooked food with several ingredients: a tomato soup with macaroni and sweetcorn. Otherwise he still subsists on carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal), meatballs and fish fingers, fruit, and sweetcorn and peas.

Favourite activities:

  • Face painting. Ingrid and Adrian have painted each other several times.
  • Swinging.
  • Blowing dandelions with Ingrid. But he doesn’t like getting any of the seeds on him or his stroller. He is OK with having sand all over himself, but not “stuff”.

Favourite things:

  • His Lightning McQueen baseball cap.
  • Ingrid’s hair clips with a picture of Tinkerbell.

This has been a frustrating month. Ingrid is in one of her moody, irritable phases: there seems to be a lot of anger in her, sulks and contrariness. She responds with irritation to all our polite requests and friendly questions, and deliberately does things that she knows will annoy us.

Dinner time. We ask her to come and eat. She is busy reading. We ask again. She comes, with a sulky face. I ask if I shall pour some juice for her. She stares but does not say a word. I wait. She waits. I start doing something else (serving food to Adrian). She mumbles something. I tell her I didn’t catch that, could she repeat herself? She shouts “I already told you I wanted juice, how many times do I have to say that!” I tell her that I will do it in a moment, when I’m done with what I’m doing right now. Etc.

She takes and takes and asks for more, but will not give. She asks for my help, my company, my attention, but whenever I ask her to do things she ignores me, or refuses, or complies with much complaining and huffing.

I find myself saying no to her more and more often, because otherwise she will take everything I have and I will have neither time nor energy for anything else in my life. Perhaps this is turning into a negative spiral, with her annoyed by my no’s and therefore demanding even more? I wish I knew.

This mostly seems to surface when she is with us. With others she is all sunshine. Whenever she’s been playing at a friend’s home and we arrive to pick her up, the mums always comment on how sweet and friendly and happy she is. I wish she would choose to show that side of herself to us a bit more often.

But it’s not all anger and spite. She has also shown unusual persistence this month. She has decided that she wants to learn something, and then practised and practised every day until she can do it.

First she taught herself to whistle. Now she is learning to vary the pitch so she can whistle melodies.

Then she learned to skip rope. Already several months ago she learned to skip a long rope with others turning the rope (or with one turner and one end of the rope tied to a stationary object). This she learned at school, and it was accompanied by a rhyme in two parts. First she counts a letter of the alphabet with every jump. When she misses, that letter is used for the second part. If the letter is G, for example, she would first think of a thing beginning with G – a giraffe for example – and then chant: “Mamma mamma får jag en giraff, svara ärligt, ja eller nej? Ja – nej – ja – nej…”

Now she has progressed to skipping on her own. Interestingly she first learned to skip backwards: she had trouble with her arm technique when turning the rope forwards. But soon after she figured out the forwards movement as well. That day, when she first mastered it, she skipped for at least an hour, and the next day her muscles were so sore she could barely walk. Now she does it every day. Her technique is still a bit weird, with her arms stretched out shoulder-high, but I guess she’ll figure out more effective arm movements later.

Her hair is growing quite long and I now insist on some sort of containment for it at least when she is eating. We bought a bunch of new hair clips (with a Tinkerbell theme) and hair bands and elastics. It was fun for me to see a girl emerge from behind the blond mane: I realized that for a month or so I had rarely seen her entire face.

This month Ingrid also celebrated the end of her first school year. School is over now and starts again on August 20th. But Eric and I don’t get two months of vacation so Ingrid is in after-school care for another few weeks, until early July.


  • Favourite summer activities: Bathing. Blowing dandelions. Eating strawberries. Blowing soap bubbles.
  • Bamse magazines have been joined by Kalle Anka pocket, Donald Duck.
  • Favourite craft: beading bracelets.
  • When she wants to say something that she is ashamed of, or suspects that I might not be happy about, she writes me a note instead.
  • She has been interested in temperatures and thermometres. She doesn’t quite understand the scale yet but is sort of getting it now.
  • Turquoise is by far her favourite colour.

The deer are getting bold. This one didn’t move more than an ear even when I opened the door 10 metres away from her.

June 6th is Sweden’s National Day. We celebrated by joining the picnic and National Day concert at Hagaparken.

Those rats we had? It seems that one of them (or maybe some other small creature, who knows) has gone and died somewhere underneath our kitchen.

There is an unpleasant dead odour that is strongest in one corner of the kitchen, and an awful lot of very fat flies.

I crawled into the foundation under the kitchen and looked around. I saw droppings of some small animal, but there was no dead rat to be seen. The smell was there, too, now coming from above, so the dead thing is probably somewhere in the floor substructure.

So now we wait. And kill flies. Fly paper, which I haven’t seen since my childhood days, apparently still exists, and works. But a plain old rolled-up newspaper is much more efficient. Especially with these flies: many of them are unusually slow and dull, and don’t even try to fly away. One afternoon after work I swatted fifteen, and Ingrid did another four, while the fly paper had caught only a handful during the day.