In 22 years of knowing Paola, we have never spent so much time together. Neither have our children all ever spent so much time as intensely and exclusively with each other or with us. That has not just meant us getting to know each other better, but it has further shaped our relationships.
Nowhere is that more evident or enjoyable than in watching the children play with each other. For sure, the intimacy has meant that they have learnt how to more effectively annoy each other, and the amount of time we have had together has also ensured that they have ample opportunities to do so. But watching them inventing and playing games for the four of them is a joy.
As we played at a stream at the bottom of a waterfall just off El Chalten in Argentinian Patagonia, there was a set of stones and a fallen tree which allowed for a precarious crossing of the stream. Our two eldest, Omar and Alvaro, shot across while the younger two at 3 and 4 years old could only watch in vain hope of joining in.
Not so vain, it turns out, as a delicate, determined and tender operation was started by the older two to get their younger siblings across the stream. There was much hand-holding, pointing, guiding of where to put feet. At a couple of points, there was the lifting and passing of a young one carried between one older brother and the other. Omar and Alvaro got them across and all played on the other side. I found the care and attention to keeping their little brother and sister happy incredibly moving. And no one took a bath. It is something I hope stays with them as siblings for all their lives.
Although we have got to know many places on this trip, we’ve probably gained the most knowledge of each other. I am incredibly grateful for this trip. But more than that, grateful to Paola, Omar, Alvaro, A and T for making it so much fun.
And for making my life so full.
The photos here are not about the places we’ve been to. They are just us in some family shots we liked.