As if traipsing around Fort Gordon last week trying to keep up with soldiers half my age and twice my fitness level didn't make me feel old, I have now arrived at Daddy D-Day.
Actually, it's B-Day - for my oldest daughter.
She was born just the day before yesterday, so it's hard to believe that today is little Essa's 21st birthday.
It's more than a little disturbing, by the way, that so much of the commercial stuff - like decorations and cards - for the celebration of the 21st birthday focuses on drinking. But I suppose any other legal authority granted at age 21 is harder to capture in a greeting card.
In any event, here we are at 21, and I'm not really sure how it got here so quickly. Just yesterday she was a toddler getting me in trouble by paraphrasing a line from "The Simpsons" ("I'm Essa Paschal; who the hell are you?"). Or, a few years later, scaring the heck out of us by running over her little sister on her bicycle. Or turning us into beaming parents by anchoring the elementary news program at Riverside Elementary. Or dancing in The Nutcracker. Or graduating from Lakeside High School.
It took a lot of growing up in the meantime, weathering the storms of adolescence and a few tough losses - as the first grandchild, her loss of my mom was especially hard. But through it all a smart, (usually) focused, extremely hard-working little girl today graduates to adulthood.
I'll drink to that.
Speaking of drinking, the Atlanta paper this weekend reported that various bills to allow a vote on Sunday package alcohol sales might not be dead after all.
Other less-controversial alcohol-related bills are making their way through the Legislature, and it's possible a Sunday sales bill could become attached.
Still, in spite of a petition that has already generated 30,000 signatures of support, the concept likely will get a veto from Gov. Sonny Perdue.
No habla high school
Another bill that probably has zero chance in the Legislature should at least get a meaningful conversation started.
Columbia County's board of education would be a good place for that conversation to begin.
The board stepped in heroically to rescue the Stevens Creek Elementary foreign language program last year. (For those who just joined the conversation, my wife is principal at Stevens Creek, where I supported the elementary foreign language program before her tenure.)
Unfortunately, the trustees haven't attempted since then to keep the highly regarded program alive or - as their own study recommended - expand it to other elementary schools.
Senate Bill 497 sure would help.
The legislation would reassign all high school foreign language teaching positions to elementary schools. It would then encourage the use of computer, "virtual" classrooms for upper-grade language instruction.
Educationally it's a winner: The window for real language learning is open in young ages, and steadily closes after about elementary school. But this bill won't go anywhere because no one wants to upset the status quo.
Columbia County's school board, included.
On track to hit a quarter-million bucks in campaign donations, state Rep. Barry Fleming, who will challenge U.S. Rep. Paul Broun in the July Republican primary, should rake in even more money with a big fund-raiser today near his hometown.
Tickets to the reception this evening at Bowden's Pond in Dearing cost $1,000 for "hosts," and $100 for the hoi polloi.
I'm afraid I can't make it; I'll be at a certain little girl's birthday party.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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