My Wee Lass Is Growing Up

He used to say that daughters should be settled down when they are maidens in age but women in thought: by this he meant that it was right that girls be educated too. (Diogenes Laertius Cleobulus, 1.6.91)

A lot has been and is happening in the life of my daughter, seventeen-year-old Bri. She’s discovered a love of journalism, and because of this, she is arranged to shadow WPSD’s Brianna Clark tomorrow morning from 4:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m. which means that we’ll have to leave our home by 3:30 a.m. in the morning. It’s worth it, though, and I trust the coffee will sustain us both throughout the day. Calloway County High School allows their juniors a mentorship day where they can shadow someone in the field they may want to enter for a career, so this is what we’ve set up and are grateful to WPSD and Brianna Clark for agreeing to accommodate her.

Bri has also landed an internship with Murray State News this summer, so tomorrow she’ll get a glimpse of television reporting and all that goes into it. This summer, however, she’ll learn about journalism in writing for a paper, so she’s experiencing an enormous amount of exposure in the journalism field. In the first week of July, she’ll attend a conference at George Mason University in D.C. For the week, she’ll attend lectures by noted journalists, some of whom are on prime-time television. Many people have aided in making that possible. We have had friends and family, and members of the Murray community donate towards her attending this conference, and my wife and I are grateful to them. Bri also contributed to these costs herself by the jobs she’s worked—part-time at Culvers, Hendon’s Garden Center, and helping cater at weddings with a sister from our congregation. I’m so pleased that she’s not afraid to work and will work as many jobs as needed for her goals. The help she’s received from others has been so appreciated by her and my wife and me, and we thank each one who has been kind enough to help us.

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Now for the clincher: After several meetings and much discussion, Bri has decided to join the Army National Guard. She was contacted by a recruiter based on test scores. She initially had no interest, but we decided it best to at least hear them out. We’ve learned that with the National Guard, Bri could enlist as soon as this coming June. She would obligate herself to them for six years, and her time would begin counting upon her swearing-in in June. She would, of course, finish her senior year in high school while also drilling one weekend per month and going away for a couple of weeks during the summer for training, and she’d earn money during this time.

Upon graduating from high school, she would attend basic training (boot camp) and her job training, which would consist of about six months, so there are 1.5 years down with her senior year and basic/job training. She is leaning toward military police as her National Guard job-training. She would then enter Murray State University’s ROTC program while working on her bachelor’s degree, presumably in journalism and/or public relations. We were told that while she was in the ROTC program, she would have a guaranteed deferment were her unit mobilized. However, upon graduating with her degree, she would attain the rank of 2nd Lt. By the end of her degree, she would only then have six months of her enlistment left. If she decided, she could then either reenlist or work out her time and move on.

The National Guard would provide her with pay for her job with them every month, and health benefits as well as life insurance. She could work another job if she chose to, but they would pay for all of her college expenses, and she would graduate without debt—which is something we’ve urged her to try to do. Upon graduation, she could pursue a career pertinent to her degree or her job training with the Guard. She would have options, which is something we’ve wanted for her. Our main advice to Bri about her career has been, “Make sure it would please God and that you’re happy doing it.” That’s it.

On Monday evening, her mother and I signed forms with the National Guard that cedes our parental authority as her guardians and allows her to act like an adult from here on out as far as they are concerned. The ball is now in her court. Contingent upon her passing all medical exams, she would only need to make the commitment and take her oath, and she would be a member of the Army National Guard. If it’s God’s will and her desire, her mother and I support her decision and would be most proud of her. Even if something were to happen and things didn’t work out as they look to be working out, we’d still be proud of her and support her in her desires. I will say, however, that signing away our parental rights was a rather solemn moment. Steph and I have done our work to the best of our ability as her parents. Now, it’s time for our little eaglet to prepare to fly from the nest. We love you, Bri.

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