Friday, May 7, 2010

Away From Home

We were the last of our friends to do sleep overs. I think I might be the only parent in Dylan's 4th grade class that does not leave him home alone. And I don't allow him to smoke, drink or do drugs. Yeah, I'm a little over protective.  

But,  now we've both gotta grow up (at least, I do). His entire CO-ED class will be going on a three-day, two night field trip - which I am not chaperoning. Yeah, I'm kinda freaking out. He however, is thrilled! 

Kids can eat a lot in three days. The most frequently used phrase by my kids is "Got any food?? I'm sssstttaarrvvvvinnnngggg!" So when we first started planning the class trip, food was at the front of my - and apparently everyone else's-  mind. "OMG, he's going to starve to death!" read frantic emails from friends, parents and teachers. "What do we to do? There's no way we can feed a vegan kid for three whole days!  Does he eat bananas? We can pack celery....." I assured them that it would not be a problem, and asked for them to send me the menu. 

I'm thankful to be going thorough this first with my easy-going child. When we first talked about the food issue, he said "What's the problem? Just pack a bunch of bars in my backpack". I explained that he might want something more substantial after a day - his typical 10 year old response was "Whatever". While I am glad he's fine with 'whatever', some children (like my daughter) are not. To make him feel included, and not make a huge deal out of the vegan thing, I'm planning to replicate every meal and snack with vegan look-alikes. I've talked to the parents who are planning the meals for the trip, and we've worked to make things veg where it makes sense to (like using a non-meat sauce for the spaghetti, with meat balls on the side). They're also offering veggie dogs and veggie burgers in addition to the traditional ones. Yeah! 

Choosing to raise vegans comes with one major difference than raising omnis. When it comes to eating outside of the home, WE MUST PLAN AHEAD. We are vegan parents; we research the menu before heading out to a new restaurant - we hide packs of nuts in our glove boxes and purses - we  have Zbars, Luna Bars, and Cliff Bars on hands at all times. We pack separate coolers and prep vegan meals for three day class camping trips. 

Parents often say to me, "won't they feel left out? Isn't it really hard?" I think this shows that, no, they don't feel left out, and no, it's not hard! It just takes a little bit of planning and a little extra work. Okay, and  little creativity. Still trying to figure out how to replicate a hard boiled egg......... 

What a fabulous opportunity we have to show all the kids (and adults!) that veganism is not limiting, or too hard, or depriving!  I love that I get to demonstrate everyone that vegans can have all the same foods, without the cruelty. So, I'll prep, pack, and send him on his way. And while I will cry, he will have a fabulous time, and neither of us will have to worry about the 'food thing'! 


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