Gender, Childrearing, and Travel
So the last few weeks have involved a lot of travel for me as you may know from my posts. I had couple of experiences I wanted to share with you.
Setting: Major national meeting
Background: I am at a mingling session with drinks and light hor d'oerves with several people I know from my Ph.D.
So I am talking with a group of young faculty that I know when a senior faculty member approaches. We chat a few sentences about the meeting and then he asks me, "Where are your kids." I was a little taken aback by the question since it had nothing do with what we were discussing, but responded, "We have a nanny. They are home with the nanny. My daughter is in school so I couldn't really bring her." [Note haven't brought kids to conference since they were babies and I was nursing.] Then we said pleasantries and senior faculty moved on.
Background: Returning from different major national meeting
I am at the food court getting breakfast when I see a Sr. Faculty that I know in line. I approach ask what he's doing there, was he there for meeting? He replies, "no, not here for meeting, here for --, how was meeting?." I respond, "meeting was really great, at least for me." He responds along the lines of "where are your kids, it must be hard to leave them." Me, "yeah, they are home with the nanny, although it is nice to get away once in a while."
So here is the deal. In both cases, the question was not "how are your kids," which implies a subtle interest in my family and how I am doing, but "where are your kids," which sounds like a rebuke for me not being with them. I kept wanting to say things like "where should they be?" or "where are your kids?" But then maybe I'm, overreacting. So I asked one of the Sr. faculty in my department if he had ever experienced something like this. He said that it was rare for someone to ask about his kids and it was always how are they never where are they. What are your thoughts?