Being a new Dad, six months on

Six months on the pace of baby M’s development is astonishing. She’s suprisingly agile and athletic – don’t know where she gets that from – and now just starting to ‘commando crawl’ a little. Arms are longer and able to grab at more objects. We need to be much more vigilant now but she’s now so much more interactive and aware.

She’s superfun and you can begin to teach her silly skills like how to shake a maraca or drum on the tabletop. A reading session with a simple book will hold her attention for quite some time and she’ll stroke the pages and point at the images.

Actually becoming a Dad, while giving a big sense of responsibility, is not quite as stressful as I thought it might be. There’s too much goofy nonsense to entertain us going on, too much outright fun. The only sad thing is having to go to work when M’s at her most energetic and delightful.

M’s just enjoyed her first experience of Spain and the searing summer heat of Madrid. I’m not sure whether her latin genes will make her a sun-seeker or her celtic genes a sun-avoider but she did suffer a little, poor mite.

Although Mama has been speaking to her in Spanish from day one, the rapid faster-and-faster conversations of people in Madrid clearly confused her – as people spoke there was a curious look on her face. She stopped her periodic babbling sessions as if unable to mimic her Spanish relatives like she could her British ones.

The famed latin love of children is no myth. Everyone we met wanted to have a hold of M and she was passed round half the barrio on numerous occasions. That she didn’t seem to mind – loads of extra attention and fun. It’s when everyone’s left the room that the grizzles start. He much older cousins took to a huge shine her and she repaid one by yanking a dangling earring as hard as she could – a hand she can yank with some force now.

Spain was an opportunity to pick up some Spanish children’s books, DVDs and music and she’s certainly enjoying a DVD of Spanish Children’s songs. I’m not sure the telly should be used to babysit a 5-6 month old, but, heck – it’s a way to add in more Spanish back in the UK.

Lidia has hooked up with various bilingual new mums back at home. M has little half-German, half-Russian, half-French chums to interact with. Lidia’s also met some parents who homeschool their children. Foreign people – whether Spanish, French, Polish – who have had any experience of UK state education at all seem quite stunned by the low standards, the lack of respect, the bullying. Poor education seems another ‘UK special’ along with excessive prices for key living costs and binge drinking. It seems foreign parents would have no problem sending their children to the nearest school back home, but here want to homeschool or, if funds allows, go private. It’s rather sad.

It’s a few years off, but the benefits of homeschooling seem to grow bigger in our minds the more we think about it. As there are many networks of homeschooling parents and kids, the detractor’s main argument against it – that children become isolated from their peers – is meaningless. In fact, homeschooled kids seem to interact regularly with a far wider cross section of the community, rather than be couped up in arbitrary age groups.

In terms of bilingual learning, we’ve largely used the ‘one parent, one language’ method with M so far, although I’ll quite often use my intermediate Spanish with her just for fun and because, living in England, M will get plenty of opportunity to hear English spoken. It’s also an opportunity and an incentive to improve my Spanish and take it to the next level. Surely all I need to is stay one grammatical conjugation ahead of the kid, right?

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