Vegan Parenting Moments – a collection of my own little experiences, be they “triumphs” or be they “fails”, as I navigate this wild adventure of raising a vegan child in a non-vegan world.
Waits is five and a half, which means he started kindergarten a few weeks ago. It’s the first time he’s really been off on his own, left to make his own decisions about what is – or what isn’t – acceptable for him. And left on his own to remember, with his developmentally-appropriate-and-therefor-rather-absent-minded 5 year old brain, to ask about the food and the tools and the textiles he encounters during his school day. Left to single himself out, left to speak up on his own behalf, and left to potentially be left out.
It’s a lot to ask of a tiny guy.
Here in California we’ve been having a heat wave (a little rain very recently, which is so welcome, but mostly it’s been sweltering), and so one day after school, maybe the second week of school, the teachers all passed out popsicles to the kiddos, right at dismissal. And I was standing outside of his classroom, waiting for him, and I watched all these wee people come streaming out, already excitedly slurping down their icy little sugar bombs.
And then out walked Waits, a look of intense determination on his face. His popsicle, unopened, clenched firmly in his little fist. His eyes scanned the schoolyard and zeroed in on his kindergarten teacher, and he was off. “Miss Anne! Miss Anne! I need to know if this is veeeeegan!!”
I followed along behind him (he hadn’t seen me yet, so set on his task he was) and approached as his teacher was trying to explain that she didn’t know. “Do you have the box??” he offered hopefully.
And she did, she fished it out of the trash and handed it to me so that I could confirm. And yes – they were vegan!
Then, and only then, did Waits tear into that popsicle. And the look of joy on his face was just priceless. He was beaming.
And I was just so proud of him. I told him that I was impressed with his restraint, and I told him how much I appreciated his conviction. How wonderful it was that he went to find his teacher, to confirm that his popsicle was vegan. And on the way home we talked about it some more, and instead of saying, “Weren’t you lucky that your popsicle was vegan so that you could eat it?” I reframed the issue and said to him :
“Aren’t your classmates lucky that all of their popsicles were vegan, and they didn’t even have to hurt any animals in order to enjoy their treat? What lucky kids they were to get vegan popsicles today!”
And he agreed that they were very lucky, indeed.
Being a kid growing up outside the mainstream can be so hard, and raising a kid outside the mainstream means sometimes living with a sense of self-doubt, and often living with a sense of isolation. So, I hope that this little series I’m starting will help us all to feel more connected. None of us are perfect parents, so although I’ll be sharing my happy moments like this one here today, I’ll also be sharing my struggles, so we can all commiserate together. I’d love it if you share as well, down in the comments.
Have you had any “Vegan Parenting Moments” recently?
** And yes, I absolutely allow Waits to eat the occasional sugar bomb. It’s important to me that he grows up feeling like veganism means you get to have everything that other kids have — just minus the cruelty. I want his veganism to last with him into adulthood, which means I don’t ever want him to associate it with deprivation. This kiddo eats an incredibly healthy diet so for me, an occasional sugar bomb is totally worth the trade-off in the larger context of him developing a lasting relationship with his veganism. I know that other parents may feel differently, but this is what works for our family. Maybe this approach is something I should write more about in the future? You tell me!