Here is a thing that happens to every parent: There’s somewhere you absolutely have to be — your current livelihood and possibly your future success depend on it — and all of your regular childcare options fall through. So often, they wind up staying home, knowing they’ll suffer for it.
But sometimes, like in the case of one student at this US University, they go with option B and bring the kid along.
On Friday, Nick Vaughn witnessed this scene in his math class at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, when his classmate, Wayne Hayer, showed up wearing his baby daughter in a carrier. The father explained to their professor, Nathan Alexander, that he couldn’t find a babysitter.
“No problem, in fact I will even hold her so you can take better notes in class,” the professor said, according to a now viral post, Nick posted to his Facebook afterwards.
It turns out that this wasn’t a complete surprise.
“I try to tell my students early in the semester that if they ever need anything from me, to be in touch with me to let them know, and I really work to let them know that I mean that,” teacher Nathan tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Dad Wayne had mentioned in a previous conversation that getting his daughter from place to place sometimes prevented him from attending office hours and study sessions.
“I said feel free to bring her to my office,” Nathan says. “And Friday, he walks into the class and he says, ‘Hey, you said if I need anything to let you know. Here she is.’ ”
Nathan is the James King Jr. Visiting Professor of Mathematics Teaching at Morehouse, where he teaches mathematics education, statistical and mathematical modeling, and social networks and graphs.
He keeps the atmosphere collaborative, with students teaching each other, and writing on the white board, so the baby’s presence wasn’t all that distracting.
“She was really well behaved,” Nathan says. “I think we all enjoyed having her energy.”
Other students responding on Twitter said this was something they would expect from the professor.
“[He] is one of my favourite professors!! Genuinely cares for the students and sacrifices his personal time always to help in any way possible. Nothing but respect (Ps. Sorry i wasn’t in class today lol),” one student posted.
When sharing the story on Twitter and Facebook, Nick said that his teacher’s gesture was part of the supportive environment students get at the all-male, historically black university.
“Here on the campus of Morehouse one of the iconic [historically black colleges and universities] in the world, it just felt more caring and from the heart,” Nick wrote.
Nathan agrees to some extent. “We build community, we make sure that we support our students in whatever they need, and that’s part of my commitment,” he says, but adds, “What I want to make sure that I underline is that I’m not special. Teachers do this stuff every day in their own way.”
Some commenting on Twitter recounted similar stories of parents relying on open and understanding educators.
“I used to take my son to class when I had him,” one person shared. “It was my last year but all my professors were very supportive! Glad to see there are other professors out there like that.”
And for all the praise being offered to Nathan, a few wanted to applaud Wayne for deciding not to give up on his education for the day.
“Huge respect for the prof obviously, but can we talk about the dad still showing up in the first place?!” was one tweet. “That’s one strong and dedicated student/parent. I woulda cried and stayed my ass home.”
This is a point that Nathan hopes that others can take away from this story, too. Not every professor can carry a baby during class, and not every kid would stand for that either.
“This brings attention to that fact that we need to sort of think about some of the systemic inequities for people that struggle with affording childcare,” the professor says. “Women deal with this all the time as mothers, and so do men as fathers.”
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