“H, do you think you’ll be nursing when you go to college?” My tone is playful and light.
The college thing gets thrown around in jest in some of my parenting support groups sometimes. To allay fears that early bed sharing will become a forever sleeping arrangement: “Oh, don’t worry, he won’t be driving home every night to sleep in your bed after he’s gone off to college.” In riposte to judgment-tinged questions about just how long a mother is planning on breastfeeding her baby: “Oh, probably until she goes to college.” Or in self-mocking half jest about how long one plans to keep a child rear facing in a car seat: “AT LEAST until he goes to college!” And so on.
H unlatches to ask, “Where is college?”
This is a direction I hadn’t envisioned the conversation taking, but of course it’s going there. College is a concept that he’s not yet encountered at age 3.5.
“It’s a place you can go to learn things if you want to.”
He considers this for a moment.
“I want to go there sometime with you,” he says, then re-latches without ceremony.
“Okay. We can do that,” I say. “I would love to do that sometime with you.”
And so my question remains unanswered, at least by him, but it’s not a question that I needed him to answer anyway. I am not certain about how long he will continue to breastfeed, but I am certain that he will be done long before he goes to college. If you ask me though and I sense an agenda, I just might suggest it. I will say it playfully, as a way of keeping things light. I will smile, you might smile, and H will go on to breastfeed for as long as it works for both of us. And someday long after that, he might go away to college.