Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's in a Name?

Since our eldest was young we made a conscious decision to "take back" the word milk. After contemplating it, we thought it would be good to refute the common acceptance of cow's milk taking the all-encompassing title of "milk". While this seemed like a good idea, it turned out to be unhelpful for our son.

Both kids are in early education classes, therefore require sibling care when I'm with the other one in class. Their school has been pretty good about our vegan diet. For the snack rotation between parents, they've sent a list home which specifies what food is okay to bring. Past experience taught it is easier to tell people what to bring versus what they can't. When signing them up for sibling care I gave specific instructions about snack and what they don't eat. Since I know they often serve goldfish cheese crackers, I sent a vegan version for the kids.

One day when I arrived to drop off my son the child care provider who typically was there was out. I thought nothing of it until pick up time. The person there told me that he requested milk at snack, so she gave it to him. I clarified the type of milk, and was disappointed to discover it was cow's milk. Right at that moment I addressed the issue, and reiterated his dietary guidelines. She was extremely apologetic and ensured me it would not happen again.

The next time we came in and the regular child care provider also apologized profusely and explained the steps they took to prevent it from happening again. I think it really shook things up as it could have ended quite differently had it been an allergy related issue.

The day we went home after my son drank cow's milk, I immediately began to call what we drink soy milk. We then sat down and talked about the different types of milk. Interestingly he said that cow's milk is for cow babies. I guess he deduced this from seeing me nurse his little sister.

In the end trying to redefine the meaning of milk was a disservice to our son. We learned the hard way, but he now knows to ask what type of milk if it is offered to him. He told my sister the other day, "I don't drink cow's milk, I drink soy milk." We've always told our kids that we eat vegan, but going forward the more tools we can provide them, the better off they will be, until they can decide for themselves.

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