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Teaching honor

We have two sons. One lives near us and ranches, the other lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his wife is completing her residency in pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, which will have her working with pain management and rehab of brain damaged children.

She will be finished with her studies and boards soon so it is anybody's guess where they will move after that.

Of course, we would like them to be as close to us as possible so we can get in on their kids' activities.

They have five children. The two older ones attend a private school because of the smaller class sizes. It has been a terrific choice for them. One of the focuses of the school is foreign language.

The school has a rotation system for the languages and due to the timing of their enrollments, the 9-year-old girl is studying Chinese and will have three years of it. When she was here on a recent visit, she showed me that first they learn to write the words in our alphabetic format, with an emphasis on speaking.

Her Chinese teacher told her that generally Chinese characters are not learned until middle school. We talked about the fact that Chinese speakers always sound so angry, but as in any language, that is the inflection that is used.

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The 13-year-old girl's foreign language is French, which is fun for me as that is my second language. When I was there, the teacher invited me in to speak to the class. One of the things I told them is relevant to everyone; I learned it in France though I had never known negative connotations in the U.S. It is this. When we place an order in a restaurant, we usually say, "I want (whatever you are asking for). I was taught it is much more polite to say, "I would like" instead of "I want," because the latter sounds demanding.

Who knew? Is this something other Americans were taught and I just missed it? Or is it valid for English?

The school also takes students on field trips. Last week the older girl went with her seventh grade class to Washington, D.C. The school official in charge of activities must be an organized administrator because one of the group's endeavors was to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. One group per day is afforded that honor.

On this particular day, four seventh grade students were selected by the teachers to lay the wreath. Our very blonde grandgirl was one of the four and they all did their job admirably. It will remain a highlight of her school days and she'll always remember the mournful sound of Taps played by the bugler on the terrace.

We are proud of all eight of our grands, even the 5-month old who was born on Christmas Eve. What a wonderful gift!❖