Predicting her parents

predix envelopeWhen Alice turned 1, I asked our friends at her birthday party to predict who she’d become. Movie fan that I am, I was inspired by Michael Apted’s 7 Up series and created prediction questions for Alice’s 7th, 14th and 21st birthdays. At 7 the question were about where we lived, her best friends’ name, her pets. At 14 it was about activities and hobbies. At 21, it was where she was going to college, her major and her plans after graduation. Over a sushi-filled celebration of Our Girl’s 21st, we opened the envelope to learn how close our friends had gotten.

Their guesses were quite revealing.

In essence, they predicted that at 21, Alice would be either me or my husband.

As some background, the majority of the people at this party were graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was a PhD student in Child & Family Studies; Patrick was in Economics. Some brought their partners who were also in school, though several were not. (Those not in school actually offered the most interesting predictions.)

The schools she’d be attending trended toward large public universities like UW-Madison (where she DOES go), UCLA, Michigan and Berkeley. Though a few private schools like Oberlin (in OH), Swarthmore (in PA), Carelton (in MN) and Carnegie Melon (in PA) made the picks. Had we stayed living in the Washington DC area, I’d guess that she’d be in school on the east coast. It does seem like kids pick schools a few hours from where they went to high school. Or (in the case of several of Alice’s friends), transfer to those schools.

NO one thought she’d be in a sorority, and their guess for her last job included a range of low paying/dues paying work like waiting tables, child care, tutoring, data collection, and working at a summer camp. In reality she IS waiting tables and doing office work (in visual design) for her jobs.

Her last travel revealed guesses for a range of places, international and domestic. And in fact, Alice is pretty well traveled, with her last 3 stops including Nashville (for fencing), Washington DC and Berlin.

Most interesting though, was the choice of majors for Alice.

Our Girl has chosen on an eventual major in English, but her actual focus is “User-centered design.” She is fascinated with the planning and execution of virtual interfaces that engage individuals in constructive activity. This draws on backgrounds in writing and communications, psychology and anthropology, visual and graphic design and computer science. So in addition to the major, she is working on certificates in Visual Design and Digital Media Studies. This emphasis suits Alice’s wide range of abilities and interests. And bless her, she may actually find work.

In 1994, our friends thought that Alice’s major would be either a) creative/arts or b) science oriented. Meaning that she’s become2014-08-15 11.59.31 at 21 me or Patrick. I did quite a bit of theater back in those days and I guess my friends thought that Alice would follow in that path. (The picture to the right is Alice at 2.5 months and I before I took her to “Nightmare Before Christmas” on Halloween, as her first film.) Seven (of 13) chose arts-oriented majors. Patrick was in Economics and 3 chose math or computer science for her. Another 3 chose a bit closer to what I was in school for myself and listed political science, sociology and world studies.

To be fair, who could have predicted where information technology would go in 1994 to have had a vision of this blended perspective represented in Alice’s actual choice? Well, I’m sure they were out there, but they weren’t at Alice’s first birthday party.

Our friends saw Alice pretty much following my creative interests or Patrick’s more scientific and mathematical.

Not surprisingly, and very wonderfully, her interests combine who her parents are. And who SHE is. Living in a very different world than we could have predicted in 1994. And being a very different and incredible person at 21.

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~ by Susan Walker on September 6, 2014.

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