Christmas, Ireland. Bucketing rain, shops are closed, no one’s around, nothing to do. Laziness kicks in. No shame in saying that, yesterday, we spent the entire day napping on the couch and watching Sci-Fi movies on Netflix.
The rest of the excitement was the call from my parents, on their way to the restaurant, and many messages from friends on the social media. While scrolling the shower or pictures showing pharaonic lunches and dinners, I noticed one that made me stop and think.
It was from a former student of mine. She has a two-year-old daughter and another one on the way. The entire family is vegan, and – I can say – veganism is her passion. A passion that some years ago she turned into a successful job. She and her business partner now teach people how to cook vegan and they also wrote a popular series of books with their recipes.
She often posts pictures of her daughter in her social media pages (personal and business alike), never showing her face. Also, she often refers to her daughter as a ‘mini me’ and ‘my little vegan’. The child seems to be a core point of her business, so much as she is always shown to make a point on veganism.
I (we) are vegan. But such things creep me out. Of course, the cause is a good cause, and she’s not the only one to use a child as a powerful marketing tool. However, I sincerely feel sorry for the child. Yesterday, I saw a picture of her standing in front of an entire wooden kitchen tailored upon her size. With fires, a sink, a blackboard for the menu… Her mother wrote enthusiastically that the kitchen was the best possible Christmas present for her and that the child couldn’t have been happier than that. It hit me like a train in the face.
I doubt that a 2-year old’s secret dream is that of gobbling behind the stove to veganize the world. Her mother sees her as a vegan even before as a human being, and the poor thing is being brainwashed and pushed into a stereotypical role, a political weapon, and a marketing tool at the same time. Successful parents wanting their kids to become as successful as they are are not news. Successful parents wanting their kids to be identical copies of themselves, more likely have psychological issues or are bigoted.
The view of that picture made me think of some toys that were advertised in Italy when I was a child myself, showing pink ovens and baking trays for girls and all the other funny things for boys. Straight out of the Sixities. No doubt: if your daughter sees you every day baking and cooking, maybe she wants to imitate her mommy (until she understands what she’s really doing). Yet, I think that mommy should want something more for her child. To begin, to let the child be a child and stimulate her imagination with total different things compared to what she’s exposed to in daily life. And then, leave a model of parenthood that is outdated and potentially harmful for the child in a modern and diverse society.
Teaching children to be compassionate towards animals and wanting them to learn nutrition principles is okay. Teaching them good things is okay. Growing them vegan on an informed plan is okay. Turning them into an example of virtue for the world to follow is not okay. Your kids are no experiment. They live only once… kids should know that whatever they want to do or become, they’ll have their parents’ support and love. They must know their doors are open and, whatever the road they choose to follow in life, it will be possible for them to try. Teaching them how to be you, is not a good way to start. Especially at Christmas, a day when selfishness should be set aside.
Happy lazy Christmas to all… (so lazy, that it comes a day later) 😉
Categories: Where we stand