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School is once again in the air, and just like every year I’m completely flummoxed by something my son is learning. This year’s irritation is caused by language.

I should start this off by saying that I love where my kids go to school. It’s private (and expensive) but I like that they get special attention and they go to school with a lot of other good kids whose parents really value education (involved parents — provided they aren’t of the “My baby would never do anything wrong!” variety — are the single greatest indicators of educational success for a school). Most importantly, I feel that they do a good job teaching the kids responsibility and integrity and lots of other things.  And this year, for my fifth-grader, those lots of other things include both Spanish and French.

Let me say that I’ve got no qualms with Spanish. Business is booming in South America and regardless of your feelings on immigration, speaking Spanish isn’t exactly going to be a hindrance around the US anytime soon.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with French (in spite of a couple of Parisian trips that confirmed every single stereotype), but I think it’s a very suboptimal choice to teach American school kids generally and my son specifically. He isn’t going to major, much less work, in French Literature and he doesn’t own a beret. If he ever travels to France, everyone there speaks English, which would only be relevant if people there would talk to him in ANY language. It isn’t (just) that I’ve had (largely) bad experiences with French people (sorry Laure): I just think it’s only about the 10th most valuable language my boy could be learning.

So, what languages would I have my fifth-grader learn? Mandarin and Objective C.

Mandarin is the most spoken language in China and would provide him insight into communicating in a country with far lower rates of English speakers than anywhere in Europe. It would also open him up to other Asian languages, and people often say that learning any language is good because it makes your brain grow and makes you better able to learn other languages (I largely don’t buy that — I don’t want to “practice” learning Language A so I can eventually learn Language B; I’d rather just learn Language B — but if you are going down that route, it makes sense to learn languages in multiple families rather than two in the same family).

Objective C is the computer software language that you can use to develop apps for Apple devices (Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc.). That isn’t me being an Apple fanboy by any means, but I think a computer language would be useful and with this one it would at least be fun. And there is a lot more money in Angry Birds than in farting in your general direction.

Not sure this helps my point, but its cool.

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Last week I wrote about stressing out our kids and one of the issues that was on the stress radar here was my oldest going back to school. First off I know by relative terms I am young, but if you would like to have a kick in the junk and make yourself feel old, send your first kid off to Kindergarten and have someone kick you in the junk.

This summer has flown by this year, of course faster than every other year it seems, but it is bittersweet. The kids get to go back to their respective holding cells and someone else can watch them for a few hours instead of my pregnant wife. However, my pregnant wife also needs to return to her employer now that the summer is over until the baby is born. As we have been leading up to this monumental event for my 5 year old, there have been some of the typical events for the beginning of school. The most fascinating to me was the school supply list. It was weird. When I was in grade school I remember that I brought my own stuff and if I didn’t have something, that was my own problem. So I would come packed up with the new markers, crayons, folders, etc. Not the same with my daughter’s school. It seems to be a community pot luck dinner for all supplies. I guess that’s a good thing, but its strange to me. Maybe its just the newness of it. I don’t know.

Well there was one item on the list that really took me by surprise. Well it was multiples of the same item. They asked that each student bring in 12 glue sticks PER KID. I have never used a glue stick so off the bat this struck me as odd, but the fact that they need a dozen of them seems silly. Twelve glue sticks. Per kid. It was nice that we were able to go in a few days earlier to drop all the stuff off but still. 12. glue sticks.

Ok, so we arrive on the first day of school and I work from home to witness this right of passage for my girl. Hannah (the oldest) had already picked out and practiced wearing her first-day-of-school dress and she is glowing with excitement. The excitement was so much that she decided to get up at 5am and start talking to my wife & I in our bed for 2 hours. We convince her to eat some breakfast and we get ready to hit the bus stop. It was at this time I realized that I was old and that Hannah was getting there too. It was a bit tough to swallow. Not like I was crying or anything, but it makes you think where the last 5 years have gone…

She can fit in her backpack

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