A daughter’s unwritten future

Posted June 25, 2010, at 9:01 p.m.

As my daughter prepares to begin her senior year in high school, we seem to be facing the same questions from friends, neighbors and relatives.

“What are her plans?” “Does she know what school she’s going to?” “Does she know what she wants to do?” “Is she planning to stay in state?” “What does she plan to study?”

As the flurry of questions subsides, some of the more observant may notice the ashen shade of my skin or the bead of sweat on my brow or the clueless expression on my face.

On Friday morning I interviewed Lucas Richman, who was just hired as the new conductor and musical director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. When he was 6 years old, he was busy reading the biographies of great composers.

I’m figuring he’s always known what he wanted to do — what he was meant to do.

Eleven-year-old Nicholas Danby of Bangor told me recently that he plans to run for the Maine Senate in 2020 and will be making a run for the White House in 2040.

Since entering high school my daughter has quietly fretted that her career path was not so clear. Some of her friends seemed to have it worked out — their agendas for life seemingly typed up neatly and stored in some hidden compartment of their brain ready for retrieval when anyone asked.

Jayci’s agenda is a bit more discombobulated. Some things have been scratched out over the years and others squeezed in as she simply lives and matures and discovers, more independently, the world around her.

We’ve tried consistently to reassure her that she has plenty of time, that she is not in the minority, because most high school graduates are still unsure of the career path they will eventually choose.

“Go to a college that you like, pick a major that does not pigeonhole you in one direction and the rest will shake itself out,” I tell her, trying to sound much more confident than I am.

I guess there may be a small part of me that wishes we could answer those questions thrown at us about her future with sure, solid replies.

When she was a second-grader at Fourteenth Street School in Bangor, her college and career plans were rock solid.

She would get a degree from Husson University, where our neighbor and friend Warren Caruso coaches basketball. They could share rides, she thought. She would graduate and head right back to Fourteenth Street School, where she would work as a kindergarten teacher.

Case closed.

All that was left was to pick a husband, buy a house in our neighborhood and decide on baby names.

I still think that sounds like a tremendous plan.

Jayci, however, seems to have scratched some of that stuff off her agenda.

Other things, such as attending a college out of state and spending some time in the Peace Corps, seem to have been squeezed in — jotted in the margins, so to speak.

She is a dedicated member of the Interact Leaders Club, a youth group of the Bangor Y and the Bangor Area Breakfast Rotary Club that focuses on the importance of effective leadership skills and community and world volunteerism. She has thrived among those who lead and participate in that club.

Some days she still thinks she may want to teach or perhaps be a psychologist.

I’m still hoping that maybe someday she will end up looking for a house in the neighborhood and use her leadership skills right here in this community.

But I’m guessing that some of her skills may be honed in very distant lands

Meanwhile, well-meaning and interested people will ask: “What are her plans?” “What will she study?” “Where will she go to school?”

I’m pleased they ask, but for now I think my stock reply will consist of a few moments of bragging about the wonderful young woman she is becoming, and then — well, perhaps just a shrug.

You may reach Renee Ordway at reneeordway@gmail.com, and you can catch her and her co-host, Dan Frazell, from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on 103.1 the pulse.

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