Well, this is the time for milestones! A recent major one was celebrating our daughter's first birthday. Shortly after that celebration, our daughter began her transition to her new class at daycare, which is what this post is about. She was in the infant classroom for eight months, and we were genuinely sad to say goodbye to her teachers. They clearly loved her so much, and she clearly loved them so much. Thankfully, they are in the same building and are not too far away if we want to pop in for a visit. :)
Over the eight months our baby was in the infant classroom, she learned a lot. And WE learned a lot! She had the most wonderful group of teachers, all of whom loved our baby and took great care of her. And the feeling was certainly mutual. She was (and still is) so excited to go to daycare. She developed so many skills, and she made a lot of friends. You could see that, even at 10-11 months old, there were some babies she was genuinely excited to see in the mornings, and vice versa! For example, there were twin boys in her class, and I can recall one day where she and one of them were having some sort of conversation and they were belly-laughing with each other. It was one of the cutest things I'd ever seen. On a regular basis, at least one of the twins would crawl over to her as soon as she got there. It was very sweet and heartwarming to see. Now those boys have transitioned to the next room, too, so they get to spend their mornings together again!
Aside from our daughter learning so much and making friends in her infant class, I also had the opportunity to expose the infant teachers to delicious vegan food, which I still share with them even though she's no longer in the infant room. One of the teachers has started researching more vegan options on her own because she did not even know that such a world existed. I was thrilled to find that out and I was genuinely touched when she told me about some of the changes she's made in an effort to make healthier choices, and she said it was all because I exposed her to all the things. I've stayed in contact with this teacher because I always want to be a source of information for anyone who is curious in what lies out there in the vegan world. And because I happened to really like her a lot. :)
When she got to her new class, her new teachers were given a rundown about what they do with her during meal or snack times. They know she gets only her food/milk, and I think they loosely understand what being vegan entails. At the very least, they understand that it's a big deal, especially because she could get physically ill. In the first couple of days she was in her new toddler room, there were definitely some growing pains, mostly with how they enter in their app what the kids eat during meals. I did almost have a heart attack on her very first full day in that room. They entered general information about the meals, and they had not yet gone in and adjusted for her. Because of that, it looked like she had had a whole day of eating meat and cheese. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that! I called them immediately and they explained what had happened. It might sound dramatic to some people, but what if she were allergic? In fact, she could be but we don't know it since she's never had these foods. But imagine she could go into anaphylactic shock because they fed her something she wasn't supposed to have. There are a few other kids in the toddler rooms who cannot have peanuts (to the point where they made the whole room a peanut-free zone) or dairy. The good news is they take this stuff very seriously, even if they don't understand it. Beyond that first day, everything has been wonderful, and I've even received several texts with questions about whether our baby can have something they were serving the other kids. I was so grateful for the questions, and I told them I would always say yes to her getting fruit, and I would typically say yes to vegetables as long as they were just veggies, i.e., without any added butter, cheese, or other animal byproducts. Regardless, I will always prefer to receive more texts with more questions than have the teachers wing it. As I told one of her teachers, my goal is for her to participate as much as possible in whatever her school buddies are doing or eating, even at this age. As she gets older, I will make even more of an effort to make her lunches look as similar to her friends' lunches as possible. I actually read a great article today about how one mother accomplishes that. We're not quite there yet, but she is definitely starting to pay closer attention to the food other people are eating.
Until the day that I have to prepare more "normal" food comes, I will continue doing my best to prepare nutritious and delicious foods for her and expose her new teachers to delicious vegan food in the process! One of her teachers has a vegan family member, so she is already familiar with some of the foods. I even brought her some spinach muffins to take home to share with her son, and she loved them (her son, not so much :))! I hope to find more and more foods her teacher will like because you never know whose mind you're blowing by exposing that person to all the options and alternatives! As for the kinds of food I provide for my baby, I am constantly scouring the internet to try to find recipes I think she will like and that are full of vitamins and nutrients. It can be challenging when they start having preferences, and sometimes I find that simple really is best. When all else fails, I steam some potato spears, sprinkle some "nooch" (nutritional yeast) on them, saute some firm or extra firm tofu, and send my girl on her way. But just that simple little meal is delicious and nutritious. Easy breezy.
All in all, I'm excited about this next year my girl will spend in her new class, developing more skills and forging new friendships, and I'm excited about exposing her teachers and friends to a different way of eating great food. Sure, I'm a little nervous about that lack of control, but I have to let go, trust a little, and make sure I stay in as much active communication as I can!