Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So it Begins...

Last night was the first night of Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). It's a thing we do on Monday nights. Basically it's a way for Anna to interact with a whole bunch of kids, since she doesn't go to daycare. It's nice for us too, since the parents separate from the kids and talk about parenting.

For the first night of class the parents stayed with their kid(s) the whole time, just to get them used to the idea of being there in hopes that when we separate next week it won't turn into a meltdown.

At the end of playtime all the kids sit around a big table and have snacks and a sippy cup of water. My wife and I let all the teachers know ahead of time that Anna doesn't eat non-vegan things and they were all really cool about it. Basically what it came down to is she can have the Cheerios. That's about it. The Goldfish have cheese in them. The Bunny Grahams have honey in them. So Cheerios it is.

Anna loves Cheerios. In fact, I once used Cheerios as a vehicle for peas since she wouldn't eat the peas on their own. I called them Pearios.

Needless to say, they are one of her favorite things to eat. So we didn't think giving her just the Cheerios would be a problem and for the most part it wasn't. But she did look over at what the other kids were eating and we could tell she was wondering why she wasn't eating that. I mean, the Goldfish were the colored kind. Bright colors like purple and red and orange. How long will boring old brown Cheerios be able to contend with that?

Anna ate her Cheerios while my wife and I hovered and held our breath in hopes that she wouldn't demand the cute bunny and fish snacks. There was a point where the kid to her left was chowing down and somehow half of a Goldfish ended up close to Anna. I saw her eyeing it, but I didn't want to intervene. I guess I wanted to let her decide to not pick it up, instead of me deciding for her.

I do this quite a bit at home. She will stand in front of a plant and look at it and I know that she's contemplating pulling off a leaf or grabbing the stem and pulling the whole plant off the table. But I just let her stand there and let her work it out on her own and I only intervene if she actually grabs the plant. This hardly ever happens.

But she did pick up the half-goldfish and before I could get to her hands she had it in her mouth. End of the world? No. Do I regret not preemptively acting? Kinda. But I need to come to terms with the fact that these things will happen. In fact, they're going to happen quite often in Anna's early years, before she knows to ask if something is vegan before she eats it (and yes, things like this might happen even after she knows how to ask and even after we tell her that we don't eat non-vegan foods).

So what is a vegan parent to do? Sure, I need to come to terms with the fact that these things will happen, but that doesn't mean that I should just sit back and make no attempt to decrease the likelihood of these occurrences. I went shopping at Target after ECFE and as far as I can tell all of the Goldfish varieties have cheese in them. So bringing vegan Goldfish to class is out of the question. Also, I looked for Bunny Grahams without honey, and the kind that didn't have honey in them did have milk in them (except for the chocolate ones, and I don't think the teachers or parents would be too excited about giving kids chocolate at 7 at night). So I'm on the lookout for vegan bite-sized treats. If you have any ideas let me know.

Another option is to ask the teachers to keep a closer eye on Anna. We trust them to take care of our kids for an hour, why not trust them to monitor what goes in their mouths? I may have a one-to-one chat with the main teacher next Monday and ask her to just be more aware of the situation and to make a reasonable effort to keep the non-vegan foods out of my daughter's mouth.

The most extreme option would be to take Anna out of the class. This option is not on the table. I won't sacrifice my child's socialization for vegan purity. The best we can do is explain to her at every turn what we do and do not eat and why (age-appropriately, of course).

So it begins. The first in what I'm sure will be a long line of non-vegan things that end up in Anna's stomach.

Actually, now that I think of it, my wife told me that Anna ate a whole Goldfish a couple weeks ago at a play-date.



mindy said...

Pearios, huh? Can you get a patent on that or something?

HeatherK said...

This list has helped me so much to have aknowledge of ordinary foods that are vegan. great for when I'm in a social situation and don't want to ask to read the box of everything my host offers! There might some great kid friendly snacks on the list that you hadn't even thought about!

Al said...

Mindy: Good idea. Not sure how the peas would keep though. Maybe freeze-dry them? I'm going to call General Mills ASAP!

heatherk: I'm assuming you're referring to this list on PETA?

I completely forgot about that list until a friend emailed me the link after I wrote this post.

appifanie said...

do the pretzel goldfish have cheese? i was wondering that yesterday. of course, they aren't as cute. myself, i used to like the pizza ones.

Al said...

I think the pretzel crackers have whey in them. Boo.

Dino said...

Have you considered dried fruit? Also, this site has a recipe for home made goldfish crackers: http://yumsugar.com/416829
Maybe you could use Follow Your Heart cheese instead of the yucky dairy stuff instead? It would be easy enough to dye them in pretty colours too. :)

The chocolate teddy grahams should be a problem, because they have exactly the same amount of sugar as the other varieties. The chocolate in there is actually just a flavouring. According to the PeTA list, the Kix brand cereal is vegan.

Good luck with your hunt!

Al said...

Kix, huh? I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the tip.

I may end up making homemade goldfish, but I wouldn't be able to bring them to the class, since they have a strict "no homemade treats for the kids" policy (which I completely understand). But I can foresee my little nugget really wanting some goldfish when she gets a bit older. It's nice to have a recipe.

Oh, and she loooves freeze-dried fruit. For some reason, I didn't even consider bringing them for the whole class. Thanks for kicking my brain into gear!

By the way, the FAQ blog is a great idea. I'd love to contribute if you'll have me.

Fireweed said...

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere there are now vegan goldfish--they even look like the originals. Check the online vegan stores. You may be pleasantly surprised!
And YAY! for raising your beautiful child vegan.

Monika said...

I am not sure if you live in an urban area (because that will make a difference in terms of access to vegan goodies) but I recall seeing all sorts of vegan yummies in the health food store (including gummy bears, which for me, were the bomb! I haven't had gummies in years!)

Are you unable to bring homemade goodies because of allergies? Would you be able to discuss this issue with the teachers to brainstorm a solution that works for your child? Perhaps they will make an exception if you can guarantee your ingredients (etc) won't touch nuts?


Al said...

Thanks for the comment Monika. Yeah, we absolutely cannot bring homemade treats.

I've found some great treats to bring to to class since this post. I should post an update.