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Jan. 26th, 2014

Well so much for the daily posting - life got rather in the way. Still it would be a pity to stop entirely. There was some excitement last week when I was a little too cavalier in slicing off the end of a dry sausage, and ended up with a cut in my thumb that sent me to the hospital for stitches. Sophie was oblivious to the accident itself, but Mike filled her in when he dispatched me to the hospital in a taxi. I came home a few hours later to a scene of patched-up carnage on the sofa, where about ten of her stuffed animals were recuperating from having cut themselves with a knife, going to the hospital, and getting a bandage (masking tape) affixed to their paws by Doctor Sophie along with a kiss to make it better.

Sophie's moods still need careful management, but there are a couple of things that have helped, the biggest of which is the calendar. Her reluctance to leave for school in the mornings after the Christmas break was over had been worrying me rather, so I adapted an idea from a comment here - I took a calendar we'd been given by the moving company, one of these 1980s-office affairs with a sliding plastic band and a red square to move to indicate 'today', where weekdays are marked in black and weekends in red. So now one of the first things every morning is to "do the calendar", where she moves the square and sees what colour of day it is. When it's a red-letter day (ahahaha) she is totally beside herself with excitement and happiness about getting to stay home (way to twist the knife, O child of full-time working parents) but more importantly, when it's a black day she generally accepts it now.

I still have comparatively little idea what she gets up to at school all day. Part of this is because we pick her up from the childminder, so don't do the handoff at school ourselves (though C does pass on messages intended for us) and part of it is that it just isn't the habit of the school to provide the sort of run-down of the day that we got used to from nursery. Occasionally I will ask at dropoff what she does all morning and one of the teachers is happy to tell me, but there is more of a sense than there used to be that there are these whole portions of her life that I'm pretty unfamiliar with now. I've also got very little idea how much she eats when she has lunch there, but I guess if the answer was "not enough" then we would know by now.

Meanwhile her sense of reality, and her memory, are still little mysteries in themselves. The other morning she was in the bedroom as I was trying to wrench myself into consciousness, and picked up a remote control which she declared to be Robyn's. (Robyn is a girl a week older than Sophie, whose parents were in an antenatal class together with us, and we've kept in touch.) And then she said no, it was Robyn's mummy's, but couldn't remember her name. When I reminded her, she nodded and said that Robyn's mummy was scared! But only a little scared. And a little boy was riding the tractor and Sophie had to wait. As it happens, all that last was a reference to the Pfäffikerseelauf in September, when indeed Robyn's mummy got scared (because Sophie had wandered out of the play area unobserved and so was briefly missing) and indeed there was a kid-sized tractor with pedals that Sophie really wanted to monopolise, but had to wait her turn while another boy rode it.

This in turn reminds me of our last visit to her grandma & grandpa, where about a year ago she fell all the way down the stairs during a brief accidental lapse in supervision. So on this visit (a couple of months ago) they were understandably nervous about having her around the stairs, and in asking her to be careful I said "Do you remember when you fell all the way down them and it hurt a lot and you were very sad?" and she paused and said "Yes!" in this emphatic way that made me think she really did remember.

Mostly, all this just makes me think that there's a hell of a lot we don't understand about kids' memories and ability to tell us things, probably mostly because adults tend to assume that they remember nothing until they prove to us that they do. And it's all confounded by how they express it and what they understand to be true - Sophie doesn't yet understand the distinction between past and future, between "this morning" and "yesterday" and "last week" (or at the very least, she doesn't know how to communicate the distinction. Who knows what she understands!) So she can very easily say things like "I had a fight with Daddy earlier!" that seem totally made up until you realise that by "earlier" she means "last week, which is the last time I was in this situation that you & I are in now" as opposed to "this morning, last time I saw Daddy". Still I keep being surprised by the reactions of other adults when Sophie clearly remembers something from a week or two ago - it seems normal and reasonable to me that she would, but often gets treated as some sort of astonishing miracle of super-kid intelligence.

But if you're flexible about her interpretation of time distinctions, then you know what Sophie meant when she informed me yesterday that "when I was bigger I ride that skateboard." We're all looking forward to when you were bigger, kid.

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