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Our Children

Here they all are in Santa Cruz, at home for Alban’s birthday party in September 2000. Daphné and Nick were in their orthodontic phase, but smiling anyway. Alex, our youngest, was two here, and Nick, our oldest, already 14.

Just in case you stumbled upon this page without going through the “Ian’s Memoirs” home page or the “Zinzins in California” home page, we have six children, two of hers, two of his and two joint efforts (see Blending). Nick and Tom were mine before we blended, Daphné and Alban were Marie-Hélène’s, and Charlie and Alex are our joint efforts.

In the photo on the left, Tom and Nick are standing up, with Nick’s hair pulled back, Alban is making a face in front of Tom, and Daphné is sandwiched between Alex (next to Alban) and Charlie.

This photo was taken at San Francisco International Airport in April of 1999, the last time that we dropped Nick and Tom off to return to Paris for longer than their summer vacation. (See Nick and Tom in Paris and the rest of us in Santa Cruz). Airports don’t feel so bad any more.

From the day that Marie-Hélène and I moved in together, when they were just four, before Charlie and Alex arrived, they have always outnumbered the parents, and they have always known it. Who is in charge has always been an issue.

They preoccupy us and worry us and thrill us and warm us pretty much every day, still. There was always movement around us and in our home, in our various homes. There was always something going on, and sometimes we even may have had an inkling about what it was! Not always, though, certainly not always.

Life without them would be unimaginably dull and self-centered. Life without them would be so sad.

They fill this photograph album, and they fill the fabric our lives, still: it’s as simple as that.

The most recent photos of the children can be accessed through the journal pages: 2008 and 2009, and to the extent that they spend time with me, through my blog since 2010.

Valentine’s Day 2006, and all in valentine’s colors. Well close. Charlie has on his Thierry Henry Arsenal shirt, which is more bordeaux than red. Nick was not home, although he had temporarily moved back in at the time. Tom was smiling despite his braces: good for you, kiddo!

One day we hope that all of this will be a record that is meaningful for them of a time when they were too busy being children, teenagers, adolescents and young adults, too busy growing up, to notice what was going on around them.

But there are relatively few photographs of them all together: too much movement, too many things going on for each. We collected a few for this page.

Here are the original his and hers ordering crepes at the Brest tall ships festival in the summer of 1996. We were based at La Grée and St Malo for the vacation that year.

With the parents living in the US for most of the period covered by this journal, the four older children each had one parent living in France. There was not a lot that we could do about these two absent parents. We of course allowed and encouraged the children’s vacations with them. But neither came more than once (in 13 years!) to visit his or her children in California, and there was nothing that we here could do about that.

Fortunately, as a collective, the children have always done pretty well together. They have something pretty fundamental in common, even if the blood isn’t quite the same. The parents’ separation in 2010 did bring a glitch to the togetherness, but hopefully that won’t last. They spent most of 16 years together, their formative years, sharing everything. That will never change, whatever the parents do.

Tom, Alban and Daphné in front, with Charlie behind Alban. For a couple of summers, they all spent a lot of time in that hot tub on our deck at home. This was taken during the summer of 2000.

Not all of our photos are very good in terms of quality or composition, but some of the poorer quality ones are great shots of the people in them. It’s the people that guide this web site, especially the children, and not the composition of the photo, or its clarity or focus or whatever. So the iffy photos are included.

Here below is one of those. They arranged filming themselves for father’s day in 2003, and the below is a still photo captured from that little movie. As the father in question, I was very touched.

They filmed themselves on the deck using our digital movie camera on a tripod. How lovable can you get! It was for father’s day in June, 2003. I felt special.

They do not remain children for ever, of course, although they will always be our children.

By the summer of 2007, the older four had all graduated from high school. Two graduations pages are here and here. The older became teenagers very quickly, it seems. And in many ways remain teenagers! They have done a little moving out of the family home, and almost as much moving back in!

Ah, the carousel of time.