School’s out and it’s summer. Ingrid is too old for any kind of school-provided care, so she stays at home on her own for two weeks, until Eric and I go on vacation. She is struggling a little with filling her days.

Luckily a friend of hers told her about a dance and theatre themed day camp, so that’s helping. It fits her perfectly, as dance and theatre are her two favourite (group) activities. I’m looking forward to seeing the show they put on. It’s a short camp/course, four days only, so we’ll be seeing the results on Tuesday already.

She’s also spending some time each day trying to earn money. Her allowance doesn’t go as far as she wants, especially since it’s essentially halved until the end of the year as she pays off her new gaming computer. She wants money for souvenirs from our upcoming vacation trips, and for ComicCon in September. She is also talking about saving up enough to join the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in 2023, which is rumoured to cost 39 000 – yes, thirty-nine thousand – Swedish kronor.

To make more money she is cooking dinners, taking out the recycling, etc etc. She found an app (called Gimi) to keep track of the chores as well as the money she earns by doing them, and though there is no gamification in it, the bare fact that she can see progress on the screen helps give her that extra push.

Meanwhile she still likes drawing and reading and gaming. Hunger Games remains by far her favourite book/movie. There’s probably general hanging out on the internet going on as well, Snapchat and other such things that kids nowadays do, but since she does that in her own room and likes having the door closed, I don’t really know.

Other facts: this summer’s wardrobe is made up shorts and t-shirts only. No dresses, and no tank tops since Ingrid doesn’t like to have her shoulders bare.

This month’s big new thing is the new haircut of course. It’s taken me a while to get used to it, but now Ingrid no longer looks like a stranger. She herself is amazed by how easy to care for the shorter hairdo is – how she can wash her hair in the morning and have it almost dry before it’s time to leave for school.

Ingrid’s mornings are otherwise getting lazier. She wakes when the alarm goes off at seven, but it usually takes half an hour before she actually gets out of bed. The bed is so fluffy and cosy, she says. So she lies there and fiddles with Instagram och Snapchat and such. Once she does get up, she’s fast and efficient, and her breakfasts are light, so she still gets out the door in time.

Instead she stays up later and later in the evenings. We used to have nine as the cutoff for good night stories – if she wasn’t in bed by then, no story. Then we shifted to reading until nine-thirty, so as long as she got in bed at least five minutes before that, Eric or I would read for her. Now she isn’t even in bed before ten on most evenings, and stories really aren’t happening any more.

In the evenings, she likes listening to The Hunger Games. That’s because she’s not allowed to play games or watch movies late at night, which is what she would prefer to do. When she isn’t playing, she likes to draw cute pictures, especially of cats.

At school, with less than a month to go until school’s out, there’s less and less actual schoolwork happening and more and more events of all kinds. The kids from the entire school ran the Järvastafetten relay race (together with kids from other school); they had an “open classrooms” morning where kids held lessons for the parents; and outings of various kinds.

Bits and pieces:

  • Making plans for Comic Con Stockholm, which takes place in September, and thinking about how to earn more money in time for it, so she can buy more stuff there
  • Broadening her range of dinners and cooking from new recipes rather than the same old five favourites
  • Trying out the Swedish “Saturday candy” thing

Likes: mostly computer games. Minecraft and Overwatch particularly.
Reading Kalle Anka. The best days are the days when a new issue of Kalle Anka Pocket arrives in the mailbox.
Her new red Converse sneakers.
Long hugs and cosy chats in the dark with me when she’s gone to bed and turned off the light.

Ingrid has chosen to switch to a vegetarian diet not only at home (where she has little choice) but also at school and elsewhere, for the sake of the animals and the environment.

She still likes to listen to Sheila Chandra’s A Zen Kiss at bedtime. It’s become a solid routine now. I’m glad it’s such a beautiful album, I have no problem listening to it night after night.

We discovered that she has very dry skin, almost breaking out in eczema in places, and she’s now treating it with various creams and lotions. (A moisturizing cream for most of her body, a mild hydrocortisone cream for the red and itchy parts, a fatter salve for her dry toes, and a special salve for a sore area by her nose.) She likes being/feeling organized, so she drew a chart of her body, marking out the areas that need treatment.

Every day starts with the phone. For at least fifteen minutes after she gets up, Ingrid is shut in her room, doing who-knows-what, until that’s done and she comes down for breakfast.

She is very good at managing her own time in the mornings. She gets up as soon as the alarm goes off, comes downstairs in time for breakfast, keeps track of when it’s time to leave, etc.

At school she enjoys the practical subjects much more than the theoretical ones. Crafts, sports, art, music… the one more academic subject she enjoys is programming, which she does as an elective class.

After school she plays a lot of Overwatch. When she has an activity in the afternoon/evening, she skips after-school “club” and goes straight home after school so that she can play. Either she really loves Overwatch, or she no longer finds walking home on her own dreadfully boring. Or both.

Every evening ends with the same routine. Eric and I take turns reading for her. Then it’s lights out, and I climb up to her loft bed to give her a good night hug. As it is very dark behind her bed curtain, she often takes this opportunity to hide from me in some corner of the bed, and I have to find her by touch. Then she briefly pictures the next day and any special events (scouting and crafts on Mondays, for example) so she feels ready for it.

When I go back downstairs, I put on music that she can fall asleep to. It’s always Sheila Chandra.

Ingrid used to be anxious in the evenings, about any number of things, and now she’s not. Perhaps it’s the music. Perhaps it was simply a phase.

She has her nose in a phone quite a lot of time. Except when she is playing Overwatch or Minecraft or Fortnite. I keep reminding her to do get off the phone/PC/iPad but like a magnet the screen pulls her back, and I can’t spend all my time monitoring her.

I make her read at least fifteen minutes every day, but she likes postponing this task until late at night. She likes doing things last minute. Her argument – that it is better to play first and read later as a way to wind down – makes sense but does mean that sometimes it simply gets forgotten.

She is anxious and worried. Not all the time and about all things, but it’s a constant undercurrent. It seems like hard way to go through life, and I wish I could help her not worry. I hug her, I tell her that things don’t need to be perfect, and that she is good at what she is doing, and that whatever she chooses or decides will be just fine, but it’s still not enough.

  • I keep being amazed by her English skills. She has reached the stage where she – like myself – sometimes uses English words when speaking to us because there are concepts that she only has English words for, from books or videos or whatever.
  • Knitting, lots of knitting. Easy patterns in thick, colourful yarn, for cool results fast.
  • Overwatch. She’s found an Overwatch friend that she plays together with, almost daily. He is of unknown age, nationality and name, but none of that matters when they can have fun together.
  • Warriors. I kind of forced her to start reading daily, when I thought there was too much Overwatch going on and too little of other activities, and she was happy to rediscover how much she enjoyed this series.
  • She tends towards worrying and anxiety, and craves predictability. She likes planning, and doing things the same way, in the same order, at the same time. If we want to play board games all together in the evening (which means she can’t play Overwatch) she wants to know this in the morning at least, and ideally the day before.

Winning is important to her. She takes games very seriously. Even with social games and board games it’s all about winning for her (whereas for Adrian, for example, the social aspect – doing something together – is much more important). It’s a good thing she’s a strong tactical thinker; she would be a very sore loser. She likes arguing and “winning” arguments, and it takes a lot for her to admit that she might be wrong, or just to let it go.

When she and Adrian have, say, an imaginary battle with imaginary laser guns, she always has an argument for why Adrian cannot hit her. She won’t concede a single hit, ever. Adrian “hits” her in the head – “But I had a shield!” Adrian hits the shield – “But it regenerates!” Adrian hits her from behind – “But I jumped away!” Adrian jumps after her – “But I teleported away!” and so on. There is always another “but” until Adrian gives up. It never occurs to her that getting hit might open new possibilities in the game (for a dramatic death, say) – it’s all about winning. Or perhaps simply about not losing.

In some ways she is so unlike me that she feels like an alien being, and other times I see myself in her so clearly. That way she forgot how much she enjoyed reading because she hadn’t done it for a while is so familiar I even blogged about it. That was ten years ago but I still fall into the same trap occasionally.

Current hobby/interest: knitting.

I notice a certain teenage moodiness. She is volatile, a bit fragile, and sometimes says she feels sad for no real reason. And she is acquiring a habit of performing chores or tasks she dislikes with drama, wordlessly demonstrating just how much she hates doing it and what a heavy burden it is.

Growing up is not easy. Quite often Ingrid says she wishes she was a child again, about 5 or 6 years old, with no real responsibilities.

She is full of Christmas thoughts. She’s quite busy making and buying Christmas gifts, and has made advent calendars (with a drawing for each day) for both me and Adrian.

More homework than ever. And tests to prepare for, which they haven’t had in the lower years. The time pressure of tests is stressful for her, especially the maths diagnostic tests that really have to go fast. She likes squeezing a stress ball or something similar to calm her nerves.

Loves reading Hunger Games (currently on book 3) and watching the movies. So much so that she reads until late evening and there’s little time left for me to read to her.

She still likes me to do that. I think it’s mostly because it’s a habit. Or you could call it tradition, perhaps. It’s something we’ve always done, so it makes her feel safe and secure. She is eleven and perfectly aware that there are no monsters but falling asleep alone in a dark room can still be scary.

Puberty is making its entry. Ingrid’s body is changing. She is starting to get breasts. She is tired in the mornings, which she never used to be. And – probably related to some hormonal changes – she is no longer always warm. Now it’s her complaining about the cold when I’m feeling fine, rather than the opposite.