My baby turns seven months old today!
This month, Tala started going to a gastouder twice a week. A gastouder (the direct translation is guest parent, but loosely it means a childminder) runs a mini-daycare in their home, with a maximum of three or four children. When I was learning about childcare options in Holland, I wasn’t ready to put Tala in daycare with its bigger groups of up to nine kids and more institutional system.
Then I discovered the gastouder option, which seemed like a good middle ground. The idea of fewer kids and a cozier setting in a home environment was really appealing to me; the Dutch ideal of coziness has really sunk in after nearly three years of living here!
From other mamas’ recommendations, I found a wonderful gastouder nearby who made the decision easy—it was one of those rare moments where you just walk in and have a really good feeling about the person and place. Better yet, this gastouder was registered with a childcare agency that ensures certain standards of quality are met. Some red tape and a monthly service fee was a small price to pay for that extra peace of mind.
I was nervous on Tala’s first gastouder day, but my girl did me proud. She took to the gastouder extremely well, taking long naps (as long as two hours at a time!), drinking her milk on time and playing happily from the start. Now, when I bring her there in the morning, she starts bouncing and smiling with excitement when she sees her gastouder and the other babies. Seeing her gain that little measure of independence with such enthusiasm gives me a really good feeling inside.
There’s much to write about this new thing in our lives, so I think I’ll do a separate blog post on it. But after a month, I can say that we definitely made the right decision for Tala and myself. I’ve started to enjoy our walks to and from the gastouder, seeing other parents doing pickups and drop-offs with their little ones on their bikes. It makes me feel like I’m truly a part of this city and its rhythm—like this is really home.
Daddy does his share of pick-ups and drop-offs too, which is how Tala went on her first bike ride! We have a front bike seat (which will be mounted on the handlebars) ready for when she’s able to sit up by herself, but for now she gets to snuggle close to Daddy in her carrier.
Tala now gets to interact with other babies on a regular basis, and it seems to have opened up an appetite for interaction. She’s a charmer who almost always smiles and bounces when she sees people looking at her. She’s started doing the same with Rogue, too, which means she now classifies the cat as a living creature worthy of interaction. When Tala gets a little too bouncy for comfort, for the most part Rogue just runs away.
Aside from interacting with older babies at the gastouder’s, Tala’s been observing them walk and crawl. This month, we’ve seen a lot more movement from her. She’s learned how to push herself around sideways… and backwards! Which is how we’ve found her underneath the couch several times.
She’s practicing all the time, this strong girl. She’ll wake up and immediately do pushups on her tippy toes…
try to get one leg under her to sit up…
… or rock back and forth on her knees vigorously. She did a kind of swimming motion forward once, but she hasn’t quite figured it out yet. Forget toys: she’s too focused on learning how to move forward. Unless, of course, the toy is Sophie, the French giraffe, whom we acquired to help with the once-in-a-while teething pains that have begun. Tala just loves Sophie!
Separation anxiety arrived this week, as it’s dawned on her that Marlon and I still exist outside her line of sight, which means we can *gasp* leave her. Her don’t leave me cry is only subtly different from I’m hungry or I’m tired; I can’t really explain the difference, but I can recognize it. Still, her cries are far from major separation anxiety meltdowns, and it’s easy to make her happy with a squishy hug or belly kiss.
It’s hit me that at seven months, Tala’s more than halfway done with being a baby—and isn’t a baby what I wanted so very badly? So when she cries for me, I put aside whatever it is I’m doing, come back to my girl, and let myself get lost in the moment. Which, thankfully, with a baby like this, is a very easy (and happy) thing to do.