Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Nethies

(First - I'm so behind! Will aim for shorter and more frequent posts)
And then we arrived in the Netherlands, country of bikes and canals and excellent cheese. Also rain and an autumnal chill in the air. Having foolishly ditched my wool sweater in the arctic, I had to buy a jacket here to try to keep a little cozier. Plus we got Heiko his first pair of rubber soled big boy shoes (see below for the cuteness. The ridiculously expensive will-fit-for-three-months cuteness).

We are staying in Utrecht, in a proper Dutch house complete with rickety steep staircases, unheated bathrooms, clothes that stay damp after the wash for days and days, euro-sized kitchen components, and about a million kids toys. Heiko is basically in heaven, especially when the Legos come out. We are all in heaven, actually.

(Stroopwafel, store brand wine, Miffy book + Amsterdam map)
Traveling with a child is different from traveling without one, obviously. Going out for meals can be a juggling act, and I'm finding that I frequently don't have a free hand to take photos. Nap times must be respected, and you should not, say, begin your visit to the Rijksmuseum exactly when your child wants to nap (oopsie!). However, one thing I have been appreciating about Dutch culture is that they really love children. Many of the restaurants we have been visiting have kids play rooms, or other special fun things for children (though the kids menus mostly consist of things like pancakes with chocolate sprinkles ("hagel slag")). Plus lots of people like to talk to Heiko in various languages, which is cute. We are also becoming connoisseurs of European playgrounds, which are way more dangerous and fun than North American ones.
Speaking of dangerous and fun, safety is something I find so interesting here. The culture in North America and especially in the states is to blame others for bad things happening. Here I feel that people are much more willing to take responsibility for the risks that they take. For example people bike around with their children in all manners of ways. I have seen numerous women here biking with their sometimes very very new little babies strapped to their bodies. As they get older, the little ones move to the front of the bike, which is so sweet. Sometimes there is even a little windscreen for them. When they get a little bigger still the options multiply. They are in a seat on the back, a box on the front, or perched in precarious looking ways anywhere on the bike really. The variations are endless. But the point of it all is that I don't think anyone is about to sue Baby Bjorn because they biked around with their kiddo in the front pack and something tragic happened.
At the same time, I feel like nothing makes you worry about possible safety hazards like having a child in North America. At every turn there is a warning, precaution, horror story or what-if. And so, we haven't been biking around here quite as much as we might have liked, and we opted to use the backseat on the bike, as opposed to a very dubiously attached front seat, though the bike owner insisted it would be fine. Still, we've been having a blast whizzing around the scenic Dutch countryside. Watching the curls on Heiko's unhelmeted head dance in the breeze, as he laughs and points at cows from the back of his dad's bike is a vision I will cherish forever and ever.

1 comment:

  1. I adore these forest biking photos! Much Love!