Friday, March 21, 2008

Kindergarten graduation

Yesterday was graduation at the kindergarten and it brought back memories of my own kids graduating.

In Japan, graduation are a very big deal! Major ceremonies in kindergarten, elementary, and junior high. Not so big in high school or college.

Yesterday's ceremonies started with mothers and fathers arriving at the church (the kindergarten is church affiliated) and settling into the pews. This alone is different from when my kids graduated when only the mothers attended. It used to be that the raising of children was left entirely to the mother, and fathers were almost embarrassed to show an interest in bringing up children, but this has changed over the years. I was surprised yesterday to see so many fathers. (Of course, since yesterday was a holiday in Japan I suppose fathers didn't have to take time off from work.)

Most of the mothers wore dark suits though there was an occasional kimono here and there. The kindergarten teacher even wore the traditional formal wear called hakama which is a dark trouser-like garment worn over kimono. I'm not sure why hakama are considered formal wear but since it is almost always black or dark grey it lends itself to the solemnity of the occasion. Even I have learned that one always wears a dark outfit when attending graduation ceremonies. In contrast, at the entrance ceremonies which will be held the first week of April, all the mothers and teachers wear light colored outfits and look very springy!

After parents and the other kindergarten children were seated, the 34 children in the graduating class filed into the sanctuary with their teacher at the lead. No hand waving and grinning here. The doors were opened and the teacher bowed deeply and then led the children, dressed in hats and gowns, to their seats. Yes, these little kids wear graduation hats with tassels and all! The gowns have always been part of the ceremonies but the hats came into being a couple of years after my kids graduated. Already sniffling could be heard from the mothers and the handkerchiefs were brought out.

The ceremonies started and a couple of short speeches were given by the principal and the board of directors and then the kids were called one by one to the front and handed a diploma. Songs were sung by the mothers, by the rest of the kindergarten children and by the graduating class itself and another speech was given from a mother thanking the teachers for raising these children so carefully. About an hour ceremony in all. Afterwards there was a luncheon party that I declined to attend.

As years go, there weren't as many tears shed as I've seen from some of the graduating classes. I remember one year two or three little girls (these kids are only 5 or 6!) started sobbing and that set off all the mothers and then all the other kids as well as the teachers and it was a grand sea of tears! Hardly anyone could sing at all! This year the kids held up pretty well though the teacher was sobbing quite early in the ceremonies. This is the teacher's last year so she has a lot of memories to go over and in essence it was her graduation ceremony too.

Congratulations my little kindergarten class, and remember when you go out into the big world that a smile is the best way of all to communicate!


Marilyn R said...

The children are going to remember the graduation event for a long time and the parents will remember it for a life time!

Lynne in Hawaii said...

I just want to tell you I love your posts. I enjoy history and culture (and quilting too) and find I look forward to your posts. Thanks!

meggie said...

Another lovely post Tanya.
I wish all those children a wonderful life ahead. Also best wishes for the future for the Teacher.