It pays, I think, not to dwell too much on what we would be doing if we didn't have small ones with us. Long high-altitude hikes, overnight mountain stays, lengthy evening meals. Walks in the town, drinks at the bars, trips to the museum. None of this is happening, at least not at length.
But we have discovered that lots of people come to say hello to a fat baby in a carrier. Lots of people will smile back and try to chat with our 4yo when he walks right up to them and says, "I don't speak French, but my hobby is talking. Bonjour!" Lots of people say: "Cinq enfants! Bonne courage! Bravo! Et seulement une fille -- la princesse!"
The 14yo is chafing a bit. He wanted badly to practice belaying while we were at the crag yesterday, but Mark said no because he had to pay close attention to the smaller kids, so it was a matter of taking turns and being patient. He doesn't like that he has to take his 10yo brother around so much -- we won't let the 10yo wander quite as far on his own, but we want to give him a chance to wander, so we make the 14yo go with him.
The kids are excited, not always about what you'd expect. Right now I am in the apartment alone with the baby, because the other four wanted to go to THE FAIR. For some reason we have not yet figured out, a tiny midway with a handful of county-fair rides and games has set up in the parking lot around the corner. Mark agreed to take the kids over there to get them out of my hair so that I could lie down and try to nurse the quite-overstimulated baby.
They surprise me. The four year old climbed about 400 steps this morning up from the glacier to the gondola.
And yet they have limits. I think the 4yo burst into tears three or four times this morning. Once because I ate a piece of salami out of a sandwich that I thought he was done with. Once when Mark ate the second complementary mint out of a package of two instead of giving both to him. Once when his sister bit him because he kept sticking his fingers in her mouth. We need to come back to the apartment from time to time and rest. We have a laptop and a few DVDs that are helping a lot.
Possibly we will try to hire a babysitter in a few days for the eight- and four-year-olds, so that the big boys and Mark and I can attempt a longer hike, carrying the baby. It does seem as if we should try to do something at least a bit ambitious, now that we are here.