Meat Sticks

Now that summer is over, my kids are back in school.  Our three year-old is in preschool and our five year-old just started kindergarten.  There’s a sad unspoken feeling that parents experience when their kids grow up and leave the nest.  I know, I know.  Going to preschool and kindergarten is not exactly “leaving the nest,” but for a moment, that’s exactly what it felt like for me.

It’s not that my son isn’t ready for kindergarten.  Far from it.  We know he’s been very well prepared.  I guess it’s just my feeling of having to let go and knowing that he’ll be okay.  I remember when he was attending Montessori school while I was going to culinary school.  Dropping him off back then was very difficult because he would cling to my leg for dear life.  He screamed and cried and my heart would ache for him.  When I would pick him up at the end of the day, I could see his little face glued to the window looking for me as the other kids ran around him and played.

I’m not sure where those days went, but it’s a far cry from what I experienced the other day.  My son is taking the bus to school this year.  He was so excited that when I woke him up for his first day, he almost bounced out of bed.  He was dressed in his school uniform within minutes and smiled at me from ear to ear through his toothless grin (he lost three front teeth over the summer).  Tom could barely keep up with him while walking to the bus stop.  Minutes later when the bus arrived, my son allowed Tom one last hug and kiss before he bounced onto the bus.  As the bus drove by, my eyes teared up as I felt a sudden longing for those days when my son would cling to my legs.

In celebration of my son’s first day at kindergarten, I decided to make his favorite dish for dinner.  Now let me tell you how different my kids’ palettes are.  While my daughter’s favorite food is mac and cheese, my son’s taste can be a little bit more…sophisticated.  His favorite food is what he calls “meat sticks.”  Meat sticks, mind you, is a dish created by famed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, consisting of mini pork satays marinated in Asian-infused, lemongrass seasonings grilled alongside sweet pineapple and grape tomatoes.  However, to my son, they are simply “meat sticks.

That night while Tom was grilling the “meat sticks”, my son could hardly contain his excitement.  After devouring close to 10 sticks by himself (I’m lucky if I got any), my son gently offers me all of his grape tomatoes with a thankful grin on his little face.  So the boy appreciates good food.  Wonder where he got that from?