Today is the first day of the new semester. I don’t teach until Wednesday, but it was my daughter’s first day on our campus as a full-time student. After two and a half years elsewhere, she’s spending a semester with us, saving money for a summer trip abroad and getting a different perspective on what it is her parents do all day.
It will be an adjustment, having an adult daughter living at home and attending classes on my campus. She’s been reasonably self-sufficient for most of the last three years, but to me she’s still a kid, in need of direction. And of course I am literally the one giving her directions as she finds her way around a campus that she’s known since she was three, but that has changed greatly in recent years — not to mention the fact that, as she says, “mostly I’ve just followed you around here, so I haven’t had to learn it.” Now she will.
It was a fine first day, though. She had one class, auditioned for (and made it into) a new singing group, and got her computer registered on the campus network. She joined me for midday yoga and then figured out which campus eatery to sample while I went back to my office to eat the lunch I brought. Tomorrow’s the bigger challenge, with three classes back-to-back-to-back, the third one as far across campus from the first two as it could possibly be. (At least it’s not the middle one.)
In the meantime I need to remember that I am not just a mother, helping my child through the first days of school; I’m also a professor readying two classes, a program coordinator keeping an eye on things during the first week, and an academic trying to write a conference paper. I’m used to juggling these identities, of course; I’ve just never had all of them in the same room like this. So if she’s between classes and has time to chat, I may really need to send her away to work on my syllabus, just as if the phone rang I might not answer it. Yet I want to enjoy this time, knowing as I do that it will pass quickly and I won’t get it back. So today I heard the stories from her day, and put the syllabus aside for a bit. Tomorrow, it’s back to the routine.