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.