Roommates or baby-sitters?

When Swee’ Pea called us to let us know that he would be coming to Paris for a workshop with his lab, we were overjoyed!

Just imagine! All in all, we were sure to have him around for almost three long weeks. First week in Paris for his workshop. (Then one week of work in Nice - we’d survive). Then back to Paris because he had to get ready for the entrance examination to the CNRS (the French ‘SERC’ or ‘NSF’) which was scheduled during the first week of April.

One last call before he left California and we decided that being in Paris during workshop time would not be a good idea at all. This was mid March.

We did go to Paris to pick him up at the airport and we left by train in the evening, I think.

Surprise, surprise! We showed up in his antediluvian, rudimentary and beloved Land Rover... he had not seen nor driven ever since he went to California. This kid will never realize how much we love him!

Back to Belgium, Brussels was dreary and cold as usual. So I kept on working hard in the house and Popeye went to work as usual.

We came back to Paris while he was working in Nice. We did not act on a whim. It was check-up time at the hospital for me. And Popeye needed some servicing too!

The week went by very quickly. Swee’ Pea came back for good for two very small weeks but he was there.

I am very foolish, I know. I had kind of planned a few days in Brittany (because I thought that Brittany would do a lot of good to our exhausted and stressed out son). Popeye was feeling a little bit left out but he had planned on taking a few days of rest from work if...

Well, Brittany was a NO-WAY, i.e. ‘I’m so stressed out that I can’t bear going to Brittany. It’s too quiet there. I need to keep fueling my stress. This is how it works, Mum, you know.’

I did not know but I nodded and thought that those two weeks were bound to be quite interesting.

I never said anything about one night at the Opera. Nothing about going out to a nice restaurant. I never said anything about having friends over for the fun of it... I never said anything. Good girl.

I warned Popeye about Swee’ Pea needing to fuel his stress... which might mean that the two of us should be packing and off to Brussels again

We had a long talk with our stressed-out-and-exhausted son. He asked us to stay with him in Paris.

And once more we came to the conclusion that the day you have a baby, you have a child for you to take care of all your life long. Of course, we already knew this but sometimes you tend to forget the facts of life.

Now, don’t take me wrong. Swee’ Pea is extremely independent and quite capable of taking care of himself. He has been living away from home (us) and on his own for quite a looooong time, all things considered.

We realized that by merely staying in Paris, we would help him go through the ‘ordeal’. He would have survived on his own of course but he needed to spend a lot of time working and getting ready for the BIG day. He had this PPT presentation to prepare. To prepare is not the right word. If you know Swee’ Pea, you’ll understand that he had to bring it to perfection.

We would have to adapt ourselves to hard days ahead!

Actually, it was kind of fun if fun means living parallel lives, trying not to collide... Popeye went to work. Swee’ Pea worked on his PPT presentation. I lived my life while doing some weird kind of 'baby-sitting'.

Actually, Swee’ Pea wasn’t hard to live with. I only had to learn not to talk too much. Hard, hard, hard. Very hard.

It also was very strange to live my own life in a rather cramped apartment while not being quite on my own.

We did get along just fine though. It was amazing because we hadn’t live this close and this long together for years.

I discovered that silence is a NO when you are working but lucky me, I liked his music.

I volunteered to do his laundry and he liked it.

I didn’t know what to fix for lunch since he’s mostly veggie (vegan?) now. No problem. He was very accommodating. And it was allright. Popeye took care of supper. And it was allright. too.

Yes, things went pretty smoothly... Let’s say that from time to time, his stress and ours did clash but not for long and only very occasionally. Miracles happen!

Then the day of reckoning came! Two boards of examiners to face. One in the morning. The second in the afternoon. Swee’ Pea did amazingly well... except that you don’t get accepted in the CNRS this easily, especially not the first time. We all know that but nevertheless, it went fine. The PPT presentation proved to be apt to the occasion.

Too bad our roommate had to fly back to LA, ASP which meant... the following morning.

And now we miss him... a lot.

Who would have thought it would be so much fun to have a stressed out roommate again? Who would have thought it would be so much fun to do some kind of ‘baby-sitting’ too?

Lucky us.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

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