The jour­ney to sis­ter and

On the same day of ev­ery month for 18 years, Ga­van Naden took a seem­ingly un­re­mark­able pic­ture of his chil­dren. The re­sults map out the arc of one fam­ily’s growth, and the de­vel­op­ment of a cher­ished bond be­tween sib­lings

The Guardian - Family - - Family -

Iused to be a pho­tog­ra­pher. But then I used to be lots of things: a punk, a new ro­man­tic and, for a short pe­riod, a tie-wear­ing ac­coun­tant. Th­ese were fleet­ing phases and, al­though they once felt in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant, over time they have faded into his­tory. But when my chil­dren were born, knew this phase would last for ever: fa­ther­hood was never go­ing to reg­is­ter as a “used to be” sec­tion on my CV. I was in it for the long haul. I wrote in a di­ary, as if to en­sure I never for­got, “This is the best thing that ever hap­pened to me”, which, al­though trite, has proved to be ab­so­lutely true.

It is one of those jobs you strug­gle to learn with­out do­ing it. Par­ent­ing books pointed me in the right di­rec­tion, but noth­ing could pre­pare me prop­erly and, any­way, I was at the age when I be­lieved there was cer­tainty in life.

I was told to en­joy ev­ery minute be­cause the time would flash past. I scoffed be­cause the early years seemed any­thing but fast – in fact, they crawled along. It was a pe­riod of lit­tle sleep, con­stant colic, tiny fin­gers fid­dling around elec­tri­cal sock­ets and un­ex­plained tantrums. It all drove me to dis­trac­tion. I couldn’t wait for the kids to grow up.

Now I re­alise I should have been more care­ful what I wished for.

Luck­ily, my sub­con­scious ig­nored my ir­ri­ta­tion and the day my son was born I picked up a cam­era again. Then on the same day of ev­ery month I took a seem­ingly un­re­mark­able pho­to­graph of my two chil­dren to­gether.

I wasn’t in­ter­ested in posed or care­fully or­ches­trated shots and, for the first few years, I used a Po­laroid cam­era, so there was no edit­ing, no Pho­to­shop­ping. Those pic­tures are now slightly faded and yel­low­ing, which adds a nice el­e­ment of au­then­tic­ity. I only grad­u­ated to us­ing my phone to take pho­to­graphs when the films be­came harder to find. Yet look­ing back, most are com­pletely un­re­mark­able im­ages of a brother and sis­ter in sim­i­lar poses.

In one, I can just de­tect that my daugh­ter has a bro­ken arm; in another, so does my son. Hers was the re­sult of an off-road ac­ci­dent when she was thrown from a trailer; his af­ter a tackle on the foot­ball pitch. The feel­ing of pro­tec­tive­ness and hope­less­ness dur­ing mo­ments such as th­ese was over­whelm­ing.

When my son was a baby, I rushed him to A&E armed with a note from an out-of-hours GP. He had been ill for days and was now se­verely de­hy­drated and floppy. The ha­rassed staff were star­ing at a guy with a knife in his neck sur­rounded by the po­lice and, af­ter re­fus­ing to read my let­ter, pointed me to the seat­ing area to wait my turn. I was pet­ri­fied my son would sud­denly stop breath­ing. When called through to triage, he was im­me­di­ately placed on a drip and slept the night on my chest.

Be­cause of this in­ci­dent, I hated the thought of my chil­dren be­ing ill so I ac­cen­tu­ated the healthy by pho­tograph­ing them when­ever pos­si­ble with a ball in their hands, rid­ing horses, or out in the open, atop a windy hill or on a beach. It was proof that they were “up and at ’em” kids, who loved their sports and the out­doors. The fact my son slipped off

When my chil­dren were born, I knew this phase would last for ever: fa­ther­hood was never go­ing to reg­is­ter as ‘used to be’ on my CV

Ga­van Naden, be­low in­set, and his pho­to­graphs of Holly and Os­car 1997-2015

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