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Young Charles (1995-9)

Here’s the happy chap at one year old, in the bathtub in La Grée. We drove down to Brittany regularly in those early years together, before leaving France, and had a lovely time there. There was no bath tub, which was why Charlie is being bathed in a large plastic bowl, but the cadre more than made up for the lack of amenities. We did have a shower.

Charles was born in August 1995 in Malestroit (the nearest town to La Grée) at the end of our summer vacation that year in Brittany near Brocéliande.

Our little world gelled around Charlie from his day one. He was such a kind little boy, and each of his brothers and sister doted on him unashamedly. The two were perhaps not unconnected!

There had been so much conflict in our first year all together. At times it felt impossible to tolerate, it just went on and on, and that was for the parents. I cannot imagine how it all felt for the four older children. We were a family born in conflict, born out of two parental conflicts that preceded the parents’ own relationship by years but exploded when we moved in together.

We moved into La Bellanderie, our second home, when Charlie was about six months old, and here he is in the kitchen soon after.

Daphné and Alban had been moved out of their home with Pierre, their father, when their maman moved in with Ian. Sunshine, Nick and Tom’s mom, had moved out of their home soon after she learned in early 1994 that Ian and Marie-Hélène were dating.

The conflicts among their respective parents were compounded by the changed circumstances of all of the four children. Everything had changed overnight for each of them.

Into all this breezed Charlie and then Alex, everybody’s little brothers.

Here he is at Le Tahu in September 1995 getting a well-deserved bottle from his dad. One month old. Note the fly swatter on the back of the sofabed: don’t remember what it was doing there or having a fly problem at Le Tahu.

There was squabbling among the older children for position within the household, and that continued of course. But each of them embraced Charlie and Alex as if there was no sibling rivalry between them and the little guys. Maybe the age difference was sufficient to avoid that problem. Maybe they each needed someone to love without the complications of a power struggle. I don’t know.

I do know that Charlie and Alex were the glue that enabled this whole family to stay together for sixteen years. Without them, we wouldn’t have lasted more than two. The conflicts at the beginning would have been too much without a source of hope, a symbol of what was right with our love.

With his maman at a café in Brittany in September 1996. If I remember correctly, this was near La Pointe du Raz on the west coast, Brittany’s own Cornwall.

I remember that around the age of one or two for some odd reason he was often sad at dusk. Whether he was tired or had just napped, alone or with a group, the setting sun often brought him a moment of profound sadness.  One evening at La Bellanderie when he was in my arms in the kitchen as the sun set, he just started crying, for no visible reason.

But mostly he was doted on by his big sister and brothers, not to speak of the parents, who were frankly relieved that their union had brought forth something other than conflict and recrimination. He was an uncomplicated and happy baby.

Giving his father instructions at Legoland, near Marlow in the UK, in December 1996. Sixteen months old, and he already knows how to get what he wants!

The balloons were at Disneyland in Anaheim in 1998. Check out the electrostatic hair!!


Charlie picked up the desire to skateboard by osmosis (or should I say from Alban!?), and this photo was taken soon after he started skateboarding upright around April 1999. He did not turn four until August of that year.

After moving to Santa Cruz before Charlie’s second birthday, he had the opportunity to develop local tastes. It’s a requirement for children who live in Santa Cruz County to become obsessed with boards (but not those found in classrooms!). That leaves skate and surf and snow.

This was a good indicator of the way that he would evolve. Here is Charles growing older.

Here he is at 18 months in the entryway at La Bellanderie. His maman really likes this one.

And finally we have Mr. Cool in February 1998, age two and a half at home in Santa Cruz. Check out those shades!!