Thursday, June 14, 2012

That's a Wrap: Kindergarten Graduation and Lettuce Wraps

On Monday night, I found myself at kindergarten graduation.  It was a small affair, with ten children and their parents and family, in the auditorium of my son's school.  Most of the ceremony involved the children singing songs, and comments from the president of the Board of Trustees (whose dry remarks went over my head, and I'm sure went over my son's head, too, judging by the spacey look on his face during those five minutes).  Towards the end, each of the children were recognized separately: the children's teachers had written a few sentences about each child, describing them--what "work" they loved best, what characteristics made them stand out, how they fit into the classroom community--and these comments were read as the children were called up to receive "memory books" that they'd made (not diplomas, thank goodness).

It was an emotional affair for me, because it was the first public milestone for my little boy, who, I guess, is no longer really that little.  I watched him up on stage, filled with pride and joy but also with wistful longing for the small, exuberant form that has somehow morphed into a gangly first grader.  There will come a time, soon, when he no longer wants to crawl into my lap, or hold my hand when we go for a walk, or hang out with me and talk on our front porch swing.  I will miss those things, more than he will ever know, even though I know I'll be proud of the person he will become.

My son was feeling a little mixed, too, I think.  Up son stage, as the children sang "What a Wonderful World," his face changed, and he looked upset; my husband made faces at him to try to get him to smile, but I. told me later how he was happy to be graduating, but sad that he would be leaving his teachers and friends.  "And Mom," he said, "sometimes you just feel happy and sad at the same time."  Smart boy.

I'd just watched, a few days ago, the video of Wellesley High School's commencement speech, which has been making its way around the internet,  and couldn't help but think about its message, about the fact that no child is special.  And yet, here we were, recognizing each child individually, in the classic Montessori way.  How to reconcile those things?

Back where I used to work, we had just shy of 1,500 students participating in commencement ceremonies each May.  And still, we called every name (even the completely unpronounceable ones); every student walked across the stage, some in ridiculous high heels that practically ensured they'd trip, some in boxer shorts and flip flops, some in the traditional formal dress of foreign countries.  They waved to their parents and friends, they beamed when we called their names.

The thing is, every person is special.  Yes, there are thousands of valedictorians, quarterbacks, prom queens, presidents of the student council.  But that doesn't cheapen the achievement for the individual, or the fact that the individual matters.  Maybe sometimes we lose sight of the journey in pursuit of the achievement; still, the achievement deserves recognition, not because it's unique, but because the person who achieved it is.

I know that the point of McCullough's speech was that we should seek knowledge and experience for its own sake, not for the accolades that we can earn as a result.  And I couldn't agree more.  I don't want to raise my children thinking that they are entitled to advantage; the students who brought that attitude with them to college were the ones who invariably failed, either in academics, or in their interpersonal relationships.  But I do value the name-calling of every child who graduates, and the celebration of their unique contributions to the world.  Because they are all, every one of them, a gift.

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
 
For the dipping sauce
2 T. agave
1/2 c. warm water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 t. sesame oil
1 t. hot water
1 T. mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced

For the stir-fry sauce
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. agave
1/2 t. rice wine vinegar

For the stir-fry
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. sesame oil
1 package of extra firm tofu (12.3 ounces), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
8 oz. radishes, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
2 T. fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
6-8 large leaves of iceberg lettuce

Make the dipping sauce: In a medium bowl, dissolve the agave in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, sesame oil, mustard, and garlic. Mix well.  Cover and refrigerate. Immediately before serving the wraps, mix 1 teaspoon of hot water with the mustard and garlic.

Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl. In a wok or large saucepan over high heat, add the oils and heat until shimmering. Add the tofu, occasionally stirring, until lightly browned about 6-7 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium, and add the water chestnuts, mushrooms, onion, ginger, and garlic. Pour the prepared stir-fry sauce over the veggies and continue to cook until heated through, about 5-6 minutes or so. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, prepare the lettuce leaves by placing the desired amount of rice noodles in the center of each leaf. Add the stir-fry mixture as desired and serve with the prepared dipping sauce.
Pin It

5 comments:

alexaoffenhauer said...

I wanted to watch the commencement speech before I commented. I wish there was a word other than "special" that we could use. Actually, we need two different words. Because we ARE all valuable. We're all worthy of love and attention--but we're not all equally worthy of achievement-based accolades. Certainly, not all of us in every field.

I could have used less anti-bride rhetoric (what was THAT about?) and less over-generalizing about just how much we're all given undeserved accolades (Some people are. Some kids get no accolades, even when they deserve them). Still, the second half of his speech was pretty great. I especially liked the "pursuit [of happiness] is an active verb."

But for kindergarten? Yeah, every kid deserves equal time and attention! Sounds like your son's kindergarten did exactly the perfect thing: pointed out the specific things about each kid that make that kid special.

Love this post!

loveandchaosreign said...

I have complicated thoughts on the whole speech, but I wanted to join in on the emotional aspect of the kinder graduation. My two graduated kinder this month and I cried no less than four times (come on, having kids sing "Blackbird"??? ). Much love and hugs as you guys move through to first grade

Lollipop Goldstein said...

This part made me nod and cry: "There will come a time, soon, when he no longer wants to crawl into my lap, or hold my hand when we go for a walk, or hang out with me and talk on our front porch swing. I will miss those things, more than he will ever know, even though I know I'll be proud of the person he will become." This is exactly what I feel too.

Jenn said...

Ah, happy and sad at the same time. Smart boy, indeed.

Emily said...

"Maybe sometimes we lose sight of the journey in pursuit of the achievement; still, the achievement deserves recognition, not because it's unique, but because the person who achieved it is."

Love this post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...