Making faces at the camera

Life is good for Adrian right now. He is mostly happy, and as silly and talkative as only a six-year-old can be. The only things that can bring him down are hunger and tiredness.

He is very sociable and enjoys being with people. Where Ingrid needs other people’s company, Adrian truly enjoys it. When we go to a family event of any kind, he talks in advance of how great it will be to meet them, and meets them with hugs. farfar is his particular favourite.

My brother is currently staying with us for a few days, and even though they don’t know each other well at all, and my brother is quite reserved, Adrian already has him playing Skylanders and building with Geomag.

Building toys of almost any kind are his favourites. Skylanders is a great combination of (a) cool things you can collect and (b) a co-operative game with (c) lots of fighting and not-too-scary monsters.

He eats like a horse. Quite often his portion is the largest one around our dinner table. And then it takes him forever to finish it, because he gets distracted and starts talking and forgets about eating. We’ve now generally given up on waiting for him to finish – we leave the table and start putting away the food and dishes while he is still eating. It’s the least frustrating solution for everybody involved.

As a result of all that eating, he’s grown about 10 cm since summer: I recall measuring him at about 110 cm back then, and he’s about 120 now. Although I think his appetite may be waning a bit now – several times last week he wasn’t able to finish his food, so perhaps this growth spurt is coming to an end.

He’s growing, but he’s still a little kid at heart. He still enjoys the childish stuff, like hugging the ski resort’s mascot, and he still loves it when I carry him in my arms up the stairs to the bedroom in the evening, and down again in the morning.

  • Reading: Bamse, and Maximus Ring. Plus he’s started several other books (fantasy and supernatural thrillers) that all look very exciting, but not gotten very far.
  • Bedtime stories: Winnie the Pooh with Eric, and Rasmus and the Tramp with me.
  • Watching: Ninjago.
  • Shoe size: 32. (We just bought new shoes last week.)
  • Favourite item of clothing: a wooly Gryffindor hat.


Best right now:

  • Melodifestivalen and Sweden’s youngest master chef on TV
  • Harry Potter, still
  • Pokemons, still

Doing a lot of:

  • Qixels. Sort of like perler beads, but instead of ironing them together, you brush them with water and they sort of melt together, so Adrian can do it all on his own. Plus, there is a 3D version which involves a “gadget” to make the layers align with each other, which is extra interesting.
  • Reading. I brought more books from the library, but most “easy reading” books are frankly quite childish and boring, so Adrian has pretty much left those behind already. He’s now reading Maximus ring from the fantasy series Legenden om Örnfolket (“The legend of the Eagle People”), which has got some proper adventure in it.
  • Talking. Especially at meal times. He can spend an hour “eating” dinner. Everybody else is long since done, we’ve cleaned up most of the kitchen, and he’s still at it.

Worst things ever:

  • That there are no fun, cheap Lego sets to be found in the stores. The ones he likes are in the 1000+ krona range, which, I tell him, are OK for birthdays and Christmas but not for just buying.
  • Having to shower. And then, once he’s actually in the shower, he can stay there for ages, playing with a wet washcloth and talking to himself.
  • That he never gets any interesting letters or magazines like the rest of the family. But he’s not particularly interested in any of the magazines Ingrid gets. It’s the concept of getting mail that’s enticing.


This month’s big news is that Adrian learned to read well enough to read books for fun, on his own. We borrowed books from the library and are queueing for some more. When I picked him up at school today, I found him in the quiet room, engrossed in a book.

His favourite book above all is Harry Potter. (Not for reading on his own, but listening to me or Eric read it for him.) I’d have thought him too young for it, but he loves it.

Aside from reading, he likes colouring. But only in school – he never does it at home. But every afternoon at school, I find him colouring. Mostly Pokemon pictures. That’s what all the kids at school colour and draw: Pokemons are all the rage right now.

At home he’s more likely to do some fiddly project. Beading (Pokemon figures), or Qixels for example. He bought a Qixels kit for his own pocket money. He also likes sewing; we just started sewing a Pikachu plushie together.

If he isn’t doing something Pokemon-related, he’s playing with Skylanders – both the video game and simply playing with the figures.

Mostly the Skylanders figures fight each other. So do Pokemons, and so do the Qixels figures, and his favourite books and movies are all full of fighting as well.

Legos appear to have lost at least some of their charm.




Likes:

  • Colouring
  • Sewing (small pillows) and embroidering (colourful lines on waffle cloth)
  • Order and separation. Mixing Legos from two sets is a no-no; Lego guys never climb on Plus plus constructions.
  • Movies with action and bloodless fighting in them.
  • Maths. Out of nowhere he tells me that “50 is an even number, because if you divide it then each one would get 25”. Or that 4 times 5 makes 20.
  • Reading. While I’m reading a bedtime story for him, he starts spelling out some word in the middle of the page and distracts us both. So he gets to read a bit now and again (for example the title and beginning of a chapter) and then I read the rest.
  • Pokemons. They’re almost better than Legos.

Does not like:

  • Criticism. He’s very sensitive to when someone is annoyed with something he does, or even sounds like they might be annoyed with him, and marches off in tears. Especially when he’s tired.
  • Chores. Even the lightest chore – setting the table for dinner – is too much. It’s “I’m so tired” and whining all the way through, even though it would take him all of three minutes if he just focused on getting it done.
  • Movie scenes that are too scary or too intensely suspenseful. He cuddles up very close to me, hides his face, or hides behind the sofa. It’s just too much.




Lego, PlusPlus, Star Wars and (fictional) fighting. Christmas.

He likes playing “thinking games” on the iPad. First we played Tiny Bang Story together. When we got to the end of it, he wanted more. Tengami was too boring – no action. Monument Valley on the other hand he played through on his own in about two evenings. Now we’re doing The Lost Circus together.


Adrian has settled in excellently well at school and now it’s as if he has never done anything else. I don’t know what they do all day. When I ask, he usually says he doesn’t remember.

They have gym class once a week, which is great, and more than Ingrid got in grade 0. They talk about “stuff”. They sometimes do crafts. They probably do something with letters and maths.

He has pretty much learned to read now. When he asks me what this-or-that sign or heading or instruction says, I ask him to read it, and generally he can do it. Compound words are still hard because he doesn’t see where one part ends and the next one starts. But even those he usually manages.

We bought a Ninjago comic magazine and he actually read at least half of it, with just a bit of help from me with the longest and weirdest words. (It was obviously translated on the cheap with no thought given to the kids’ reading ability or vocabulary.)

He learns things at school that aren’t really part of school, as well. From other kids he has picked up the fact that the middle finger is special, and that it’s funny to show it to people.

When I pick him up after school, he’s almost always building something. Sometimes with plain old wooden blocks, sometimes with some kind of construction toys. His favourite one is Plus-plus, and he never seems to tire of them. He builds castles, aircraft, cars, space ships, vehicles that morph into other vehicles.

He usually wants a snack as soon as we get home. Apples, or flatbread roll-ups with butter and cucumber.

At home in the afternoon/evening there’s an hour of iPad time – with Pokemon TV and Skylanders games. The rest of his time he often fills with Legos.

He’s not as tired in the evenings as he used to be, and often doesn’t want to go to bed. He’s been staying up late and then having a hard time getting up in the morning. So we’ve reintroduced the concept of a fixed bedtime. This hadn’t been necessary for months because he’s felt tired and been aware when he needs to go to sleep, but now that simply does not work any more. When we’re done reading and turn off the light, and he actually lets go, he often falls asleep in minutes.




Likes:

  • Making nonsense noises and playing with words in his mouth. He repeats words that feel nice, sometimes to a little tune. Anything from Crabbogoyle (“Crabbe and Goyle”) to chowder.
  • Cycling on his itty bitty bike
  • Cycling on the tow bike. Because he doesn’t have to think about balancing, he can relax and really enjoy himself. When we go really fast on a downhill bit, he squeals and whoops with joy. (At first he asked me to brake each time we got to a hill, but now it’s the opposite, he tells me to not brake.) He explores and experiments with all kinds of fun things that he cannot yet do on his own bike: the whole thing with gears, pedalling backwards (his own bike has a back-pedal brake), standing up, letting go with one hand, etc.
  • Crisp apples, but not soft ones
  • Light back rubs
  • Lego Clone Wars animated series
  • LasseMaja books

Best birthday present: Lego Chima Lion Chi Temple. He’s been talking longingly about this Lego set for at least a year. Unfortunately it’s “out of print” and super expensive in the few online shops that sell it – but that’s if you want a brand new one. Luckily we found a second-hand one on Tradera. It was the best one ever, he said.


Adrian has recently gained surprising amounts of independence and confidence. Earlier this summer he went to the supermarket with Ingrid for the first time; this month he actually went to the supermarket on his own. And not only that – when he got there and couldn’t reach the cereal he wanted to buy, he wasn’t afraid to ask a shop assistant for help. I am surprised and proud.

He’s also walked to the house of a family friend (a few houses away from ours) to pick up their mail while they were away, and stopped for a long chat with another neighbour on the way back. And this is the kid who just a year ago had to be in the same room with one of us, and followed us like a puppy when we went to another room.

He is learning from Ingrid and is starting to enjoy the same things. He’s picked up Minecraft and built some houses already; we’re reading Harry Potter at bedtime just like for Ingrid.

School starts tomorrow and he is quite looking forward to it. Several kids from his preschool will be in his class and of course he is familiar with the schoolyard and buildings from all the times he’s been with me to pick up Ingrid, so it’s not a big step for him.

He’s in good shape for school. He’s known his letters and numbers for a long time already. He can read, as long as the words aren’t too long – give him a game card for example (“Move your game piece ahead of the player who is first on the board”) and he has no trouble reading it out loud.

He eats a lot, almost always more than Ingrid. We have been setting the table with smaller cutlery for the kids, but now Adrian wants adult-sized cutlery (and ours are even larger than average) so he can get even more food in his mouth.

He likes his scooter and likes cycling as well, but doesn’t feel comfortable with balancing when the ground feels far away. We bought a tow bike and he loves it.


Adrian is growing. He eats like a horse. Truly, some days he eats more than anyone else in this family. He is also a slow eater, often forgetting to eat and instead thinking about other things, so meals can take a long while. Sometimes the rest of us run out of patience and leave the table before he is done. (We can’t just sit there and talk to each other, because then he will join us in our conversation and make no progress at all with the eating, and we’ll all sit there forever.) But he doesn’t seem to mind.

He is growing stronger. The hikes of nearly 10 km that we did in Mercantour were hard but there was no question about whether he could do it.

He is also growing braver, bit by bit. He’s always been much more cautious than Ingrid, both physically and otherwise. Case in point: both learned to ride the balance bike at an early age, and were then offered the chance to try a pedal bike. Ingrid rode off on her bike after 30 seconds of practice (around her 4th birthday). Adrian has been afraid of falling and hasn’t really wanted to try even. He did learn to cycle this month – on a bike that is way too small for him, because on this one the ground wasn’t so far. He still prefers it to another bike we have that is actually in his size.

Here I am, describing how cautious he is… but he has become significantly braver, or perhaps more comfortable in the large and dangerous world around him. It used to be that whenever we went for a forest walk, he’d always stay really close by my side, ideally holding my hand all the time. I don’t mind holding hands, but on uneven ground or narrow paths it really makes walking uncomfortable, so I often asked him to let go. A minute later I’d notice he was holding my hand again.

But now when we’ve been walking, both in Mercantour and in Tyresta (the blog post about that one will come soon) I suddenly realized he wasn’t doing that any more. He was ranging ahead, no longer anxious about the situation.

I wonder if he isn’t mainly worried about getting lost or left behind. In restaurants for example, if it’s just me and him and I need to go to the toilet, he would never stay at the table and wait for me, he always wants to join me. He also trusts Ingrid: at the buffet on the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, Ingrid and I took turns going to get food so one of us could stay with Adrian. But now at least he doesn’t need me immediately next to me. He even felt OK going to get another drink for himself at the buffet, on his own. Today he was OK staying in the car while I went up to our apartment to get some stuff, for the first time ever, and in a strange city to boot. Baby steps…

Favourite fruit: raspberries and apples.

Current bedtime story: Harry Potter (inspired by Ingrid).


The end of Adrian’s preschool years is drawing close. They had their end-of-term celebrations already. And we’ve also already been to a first introductory meeting at school, where Adrian met his teacher and half the kids in his class, and saw the classroom they will be in. He seemed neither particularly excited nor nervous about it. But then he’s been to and from that school so many times with me to pick up Ingrid that it must all be quite familiar to him by now.

This month’s new skill: cycling. He’s been half-heartedly trying to learn it for a while, and managed just fine with the balance and cycling downhill, but as soon as the ground was flat to uphill, it was too hard. He’s no stranger to walking and running, but maybe his cycling muscles are weak, or maybe he just hasn’t really found them yet. Still, one day something clicked, and he even cycled to and from preschool several times.

He started with the smallest bike we have, the one that Ingrid learned to cycle on, but it’s already too small for him. The next one is just right in size but feels tall to him, so he is slightly nervous on it and doesn’t feel comfortable using it very much. We’ve started looking for a “co-pilot” like thing that we can attach to one of our own bikes, which would both allow us to go on longer bike trips, and hopefully get him used to sitting on a taller bike as well.

Meanwhile, he seems to quite like walking. He often joins me when I want to go out geocaching, and while we don’t cover huge amounts of ground, we can easily walk for two hours without him complaining.

Twice now he has also walked with Ingrid to the supermarket in “downtown” Spånga. Ingrid asks for extra chores to earn money; Adrian likes being outside; both enjoy the other’s company: win-win for everybody.

Adrian enjoys the idea of a weekly allowance but is not quite old enough to save up money like Ingrid does. As soon as he has enough for a small Lego set, he buys one. He has now also learned about the concept of internet shopping: he used to think that you could just order things but now understands that “ordering” is just like buying and also requires money. He likes receiving parcels in the post so his latest Lego purchase was an online one.

Online shopping is great maths and reading practice, by the way. With a bit of concentration, he can spell out most words of up to around 6 or 8 letters, and of course recognizing the Lego logo is no effort. Prices are clearly listed and he can compare them to the amount of money he has. I do rather wish that Toys’R’Us online shop didn’t use the misleading 90-cent pricing model: a Lego kit costing 120 kr is listed as 119:90 even though it’s been almost 25 years since the 10-öre coins were phased out.

Legos are the best toys still – not only because of all the endless building opportunities, but also because of the clear good guys vs bad guys setup. Almost all movies that Adrian likes to watch also have that good vs evil conflict: Lego Ninjago, Transformers, Star Wars…

He talks all the time. There is so much going on in his head and it all has to be shared with someone. Quite often he starts talking to me before he has quite figured out what he wants to tell me, and sentences start over and transmogrify into something else, and a minute later I am very lost and have no idea wha the is talking about, and have to ask him to start over. The next attempt usually makes much more sense.

He also eats a lot: always more than Ingrid, and some days more than Eric or I. He also eats a much more varied diet than he used to. He no longer routinely says no to new foods and tries almost everything I serve, without any need for prompting even. And then he is surprised that things he previously believed to be gross turn out to taste just fine. He has even eaten mashed potatoes! He hasn’t learned to like any sandwich toppings yet – his sandwiches still consist of bread and butter only.