The Unexpected Bonus of Living in Paris: Guests!

Photo taken on the island of Java during one of my bike rides through the Indonesian countryside. (1992)

Dua anak cukup (Two children is enough). This catchy slogan was plastered everywhere when we lived in Indonesia and is one of the main reasons that Stéphane and I don't have three or four children. That combined with the fact that whenever one of us started thinking about having a third child, the other one quickly and efficiently nipped the idea in the bud. Surrounded by millions of people struggling to feed their families, we always felt that it would have been rather self-indulgent to ignore the government program to reduce the birth rate of the world's fourth most populous country. Plus, moving with two kids in tow just made a lot more sense than schlepping a large family around the world.

I always felt that we made the right decision -- up until the moment when I realized that neither of our children would be coming home this summer. And that's when the gravity of the situation hit me. This is it. My job as a mother is basically over. It was hard enough to go from being a full-time mom to having my hours reduced when Sara and Philippe went off to college, but at least I could still look forward to long summer days filled with buying groceries, doing laundry and spending time with them. Now my offspring are happily doing their own thing, which is exactly what I raised them to do, and I'm stuck in Paris. Talk about a dire situation!

But the good news is that the attractions of the "City of Light" has recently encouraged a plethora of visitors, including our niece and the adult-aged children of close friends, to reserve our guest room for a couple of nights. Even though we've known most of them since they were babies, it has been a real pleasure connecting with Rahel, Charne, Maud-Laure and their respective boyfriends as equals and realizing that we enjoy their company as much as we do that of their parents. All of them are seasoned travelers with several traits in common. They:

  • Inform us of their travel plans so that we know when to expect them and can arrange to leave a key with the guardienne if we're not at home when they arrive.
  • Have a rough plan of what they want to do and don't expect us to entertain them.
  • Familiarize themselves with the public transportation system and ask if they have any questions about how to get around town.
  • Are considerate and as quiet as mice if they return to the apartment in the wee hours of the morning.
  • Engage in conversation and don't appear to be in a hurry to escape our company.
  • Leave the guest room as tidy as it was when they arrived.
  • Bring hostess gifts of flowers, wine or Ladurée macarons (not necessary but very thoughtful!)

Come to think of it, it's a very good thing that Stéphane and I didn't have more than two children because we wouldn't have room for guests!

It turns out that my list doesn't include a very important item. Please click here to read Just Another American's thoughts on "The Perfect Guest".

Boys will be boys - hamming it up for the camera!