Monday, December 10, 2012

The youngest committee member

Yesterday Zoe attended her second academic committee meeting*. Her first committee meeting was when she was just under a year and her dad and I had scheduled travel on top of each other by mistake. It was rather complicated back then even though I had a babysitter and tremendous help and understanding from the other committee members. But I had at least planned it for months and had warned my fellow researchers ahead of time.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was completely unplanned and did not show me from my most professional side. But the best laid plans sometimes don't pan out the way you want them to and this was one of the times. I had arranged, after having Zoe looked after by a friend of mine the full meeting day of Saturday, to hand her over to her dad, who was also attending the meeting but was able to skip the last day. Zoe and I arrived with all our luggage (one small bag for Zoe, one suitcase for me, a laptop bag and Zoe's stroller) at the downstairs reception where I had arranged for Zoe to be picked up. Except her dad was nowhere to be found and did not answer his phone. As the meeting time approached I really only had one choice because I knew my opinion was needed for three papers and that I would be wasting 20 people's time if I didn't show up. "Zoe, do you want to go with mommy to work?" I asked and explained to her that she had to be very quiet and a good girl. That got her a bit excited and on the way to the meeting room she eyed the trolly with coffee and orange juice that the service people was distributing to the rooms. "Appelsin!" she said happily and I knew this was the answer to at least 20 minutes' silence. As I reached for the orange juice still on the trolly an angry French woman told me in clear French that I could not take the juice since it was for the other room and that I had to wait for her to get to my room. I then walked a crying Zoe to our meeting room, while she continuously sobbing and asking for her appelsin. I sat her on the chair next to me and decided to take affair as the meeting was starting. I went back to the trolly and when the lady looked away I snatched a juice from the tray. Except I got caught and she started yelling at me in not so clear French. "My daughter is 2! Deux!" I said just as heated, at this point I was desparate and frankly annoyed; we were the same large group divided into subgroups and there were about 10 juices for each room. Everyone inside the room was now starring as our heated French/English argument got louder, and at one point she tried to take the juice out of my hand. I finally pretended to walk away but ran back as she walked into the room, snatched one and ran back to Zoe. All flustered I gave it to a happy little girl who sat there and behaved exemplary while I argued my way through the meeting, getting my way in two out of three cases.

After an hour I got a text that Zoe's dad was downstairs, he had simply misunderstood the time, and I took her down. She waived bye bye to the committee members and everything was good. But it is hopefully the last time in a long while that I bring Zoe to a committee meeting again.

*Committee meetings, for me, are an essential part of my academic career. It is always an honor to be asked to be on these academic committees where I take part of discussions around research publications.

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