October 18, 2005

All Grown Up

Over the last twenty years, I have sometimes had occasion to bring a child to class with me. For instance, when Boy in Black was young, he didn't like to go to school on Mondays. I figured this out when he went to the school nurse's office three Mondays in a row, complaining about a stomachache. After interrupting my schedule three weeks in a row to go get him from school, I had a talk with him and we made an agreement. If he didn't want to go to school on a Monday, he needed to tell me in the morning instead of going to the nurse's office. So after that, sometimes on Mondays, he would come to campus with me and sit in on my classes. My students always thought it was funny that he would be skipping third grade to sit in on a college class. "It makes no sense. Third grade is more fun than college," they would say.

With-a-Why, who was born in October, began coming to class with me when he was only two weeks old. I never mentioned this to anyone in the administration, and my students kept his presence a secret. When he was old enough to be away from me for a stretch of a few hours, my sister began babysitting him while I was in class, but in the early days, he often came to campus in a sling.

Last Friday, after our usual lunch, my Smart Beautiful Wonderful Daughter came to class with me because she was planning to come home for the night. She's a college sophomore - well, actually all her AP credits make her a junior - and she has been taking courses with seniors and grad students. She is now older than all the first year students in my class room. Several times during the classroom discussion, she would look at me and smile at something a student said, or sort of roll her eyes at a tangent a student took. It was very much like having a colleague in the room.

I can remember the first time Daughter came to class with me. She was three months old, a baby to be passed from student to student. It doesn't seem all that long ago. I can remember moving a comfortable chair to my office so I could breastfeed there. I can remember changing her diaper on top of my desk. It seems wonderful and amazing to me that the infant I once carried to class has turned into this poised, confident, articulate woman who now meets me on campus for lunch and who talks seriously about her own studies.

18 comments:

will smama said...

Wow. What a great post and a great journey for you and your daughter.

Thank you for sharing it.

peripateticpolarbear said...

that is a great deal you made with your son.

liz said...

I love this post. Did your students get as much of a kick out of having your college-age daughter in class with them as the long-ago ones had in having your 3 month-old daughter?

seadragon said...

I love this. I have terrible baby envy in general (been married <3 months, the nagging of my lovely husband has begun in earnest, poor man); and I often find myself hoping for a situation like the one you describe. As a nomadic visiting asst prof type, I have no idea what kind of situation I'll eventually settle into. I hope to have the opportunity to spend kid-time and share this world.

I also hope my potential future child is as neat as yours seem.

jo(e) said...

Liz Yeah, my students always love meeting my kids. Now that my daughter and niece both go to Snowstorm University, which is the campus right next door to mine, they have met some of my students. Students on campus will smile when they see us together on Fridays and say things like, "Oh, that's right! It's Friday. Mother/daughter lunch day!"

One of my current students went to the same high school as my son and had a class with him last year. She is always telling the class stories about how smart he is.

I think students like finding out that their professors have lives outside academia.

Yankee T said...

Ah, the time goes too fast for me!

BrightStar said...

this is so great! One reason why this post was good for me to read is that sometimes I struggle having a vision of myself in one career for many years, since I have yet to do this... I think seeing your children grow up while working at your job helps me realize how long I might be in one place. It's nice to contemplate how much we and our families can grow and change even while staying in one spot.

listmaker said...

Great post, jo(e). Back when I was an itinerant costumer, AdultSon used to come with me. He took naps among the costumes and sat in his baby chair on the cutting
table. I could always find someone willing to entertain him. But, once he became mobile, taking him with me was no longer an option. When CollegeDaughter came along, that was the end of those jobs.

I love the deal you made with Boy in Black. I think if I had offered a choice like that to RebelliousTeenager, he never would have gone to school on Monday.

Jesse said...

If I am not terribly mistaken I think it was second grade I figured out if I said I had a headache, I got to go lay down in the nurses office. I started to do this everyday because I got bored in class.

It was concluded I had chronic headaches, and needed candy to fix them. So not only did I get to go lay down every afternoon, I got to eat a piece of candy.

It was a wonderful system. Albeit, in hindsight, not terribly honest on my part. I was a wee machivellian back then I guess.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Did you ever have problems with the smaller children fussing or distrupting class? I have on a couple occasions offered to take our children to school with me, but Molly insists that they would simply make it impossible to conduct class.

Songbird said...

This must be the day for writing about our college students.
She sounds so lovely.

jo(e) said...

Rob: An infant worked okay because I could just nurse him right before class and that would get him to sleep for an hour. And a child old enough sit and draw -- or read a book -- or quiety play with lego blocks -- worked fine. When my kids got old enough to walk out to the vending machines themselves, that was a huge deal for them. (They were fascinated with the vending machines.) Much would depend on what we were doing in class. On days when we were mainly having discussions -- the classroom was loud enough to absorb a little extra noise. I never had a problem with any of my kids, but I didn't bring them all that often .... and I rarely brought more than one or two kids at a time.

jo(e) said...

Songbird: I just read the post about your son. We're thinking along the same lines today.

And I was just talking to friends about trying out progressive lenses too!

Phantom Scribbler said...

Aw, I have to make my husband read this post. He takes our four-year-old to class with him sometimes. In fact, my son was lamenting that he had a playdate today and couldn't go with Daddy to class instead.

lostinthemiddle said...

Oh wow. I'm so still in the changing-the-baby-on-the-desk phase. I couldn't even have imagined where it might go from here. Thanks. That was beautiful.

I sometimes find myself being nostalgic in the moment (if that makes sense) as I feel like this moment will gone forever soon and I will never have it again and I will so miss it. BUT, your post makes me see that there are other equally lovely versions to experience soon.

EverydaySuperGoddess said...

Getting to know the people those babies grow into is an astonishing process, isn't it?

That was lovely.

Doctor Free-Ride, Ph.D. said...

My kids are so high-energy (and such attention junkies) that I haven't dared take them to class yet, but the youngest (aged 4) has been to a number of committee meetings. I confess that this was a strategy to keep the meetings from dragging on as long as they sometimes do. But now, every time she has to spend a day with me at school, this child (aged 4) will ask, "Can we go to the Dean's Office today?"

halloweenlover said...

Love this post, Jo(e). For some reason, whenever you talk about your daughter, it is particularly touching for me. I guess it is the daughter/mom relationship I can most relate to at this point in my life. Lovely.