Sunday, September 10, 2006

Something Svan-durful

GreenDaddy opened the box to the Healthy Choice High Chair as I observed him from behind my copy of Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition. I thought he might vomit inside the box because of the look of horror on his face after his first peek inside...Had he discovered a rotting rat? A dismembered thumb? Or worse, a nondismembered thumb?

What's wrong, I asked him.

He tossed a dramatic hand into the box and procured the high chair's food tray. He swung it in front of him like an infested flag. He didn't have to say anything at all to me, once I saw it: it was large, white, and... plastic.

BabyG only has a few plastic toys, most are wooden or stuffed. I sent away for special metal spoons to feed her with. I don't buy organic Gerber baby food, when I buy food, because its in plastic containers. We have written extensively about the dangers of plastic, especially of putting it in your mouth. If BabyG picks up a plastic rattle, of course, I don't wrench it away from her; I am not yet a total nutcase. But when I'm thinking about what rattle to give her, I usually pick out her wood & gourd maracca; when people ask me what sort of toy she'd like, I tell them wood or metal or soft.

So here was this perfectly fabulous high chair, one we'd researched and picked out purposely, just a year before. And it had a big plastic tray. It wasn't quite a dilemma, because we just knew we couldn't keep it. It wasn't like having a rattle or a little plastic music maker she plays with sometimes; I mean, how could we make BabyG, the whole impetus of our Green Parenting website, spend her first three years eating every meal off a plastic plate?

We felt jammed up. We felt silly. If I saw somebody else's baby with a plastic high chair, I wouldn't think, "Whoa, that's child abuse." I wouldn't even think, "They really oughtn't do that." I would tell them what I know about plastic sometime, and let them decide what to do. People make the best decisions they can for their babies, in the context of their particular lives. Some people won't let their babies get in chlorine filled swimming pools, but BabyG goes all the time. You choose your battles.

Plastic is one of our battles. We couldn't let BabyG eat on that high chair. So I sold that high chair on Craig's List, and we looked for used wooden high chairs. Most were rickety. One was an antique that had a hole in the seat for the baby to potty in while she ate...and we're into EC and all, but there are limits.

After researching around on the web awhile, we fell in love with the Svan High Chair, which costs about twice the amount of the Fisher Price Healthy Choice.

But it is made of wood. And it IT IS SO COOL LOOKING.

And it converts into other forms as BabyG grows so it remains useful fifteen times as long. When she's a toddler the seat will boost her up to the table, and we can lower it as she gets taller. And when she's officially tall and wants to sit in the same chair as the rest of us, she can use it as her desk chair, heh heh. She can take it to college with her, by then it'll be retro.

I think all this was interesting because as parents, we're learning about what lines we draw. Chlorine, yes. Plastic high chair tops, no. I wonder what choices other parents make, choices that might make them feel (or make others feel) they've gone over some edge. Or can people think of things their parents did...what rules or what beliefs they had that were inflexible?

Probably this is too big a question for this post. But here it is.


Fiddler said...

One of my personal choices is to use cloth napkins vs paper, real plates vs paper or styrofoam, to take my 'to-go-cup' on trips rather than get coffee in 'their' cups... When we go to music camps I have my trusty cloth napkin in my pocket... I've even got Richard hooked... BUT, when we go to my mom's for a meal she uses paper napkins, and I happily go along... She knows my choices, but I honor hers when I'm in her space... My mother-in-law used to always have paper napkins out, but now puts out the cloth when we go there to eat...

Her Grace said...

In my area, organic fruits and vegetables are often hard to find and more often are very, very expensive. I buy organic when I can get it and afford it, and I carry my handy "dirty dozen" chart and always buy those organic.

But something I won't budge on is organic milk. Even when there's not enough money in the budget, I shell out my $7 a gallon.

I have a few other "house rules," but am flexible about these at grandma's house or on the road.

We have far, far too many plastic toys in our home. I'm working on weeding them out, but with Christmas coming I know they'll be more. I can control what we purchase, but not everyone else! It's a little discouraging sometimes.

cake said...

i'm with bethany on the organic milk-- and eggs. i think it is more about health, than environment...i am really scared of hormones.

one of my choices that i am pretty consistant with is that i get as many things used as possible, especially clothes. with used clothes, you avoid contributing your money to the exploitive clothing industry, the clothes get at least a second life, you save ALOT of money, and can often get better quality than you might normally be able to afford. i also kinda like the idea of the things i own and use every day having a history to them, they are already broken in.

with baby/kids clothes, it really makes no sense to buy new. there are so many out there, and they grow out of them so fast. if people buy cosmo new clothes, then fine, but i choose not to when i can avoid it. for myself, i buy my underwear new, and often shoes. but otherwise, you'll find me at the thrift stores! thrift store shopping can be a lot of fun too.

cake said...

ur...i mean A LOT.

Anonymous said...

I love those chairs! I hope I have to buy two of them soon!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I never for a second thought I oughtn't give my children plastic. I don't put it in the microwave, but never thought to keep it away entirely... Interesting. I will have to read more.

I climbed a mountain with my 4- and 2-year-old kids. A volcano, no less. OK the volcano has been inactive for tens of thousands of years and we didn't summit, but still. Some might consider that crazy. It was fun.

Katie said...

That's awesome - we're going to be getting the Svan high chair when our little girl is old enough to need one as well. :) Great minds...

My husband is a vegan and while we are not planning to raise our chica as a strict vegetarian (as I am not one), we will be keeping her away from as much animal products as possible - including dairy.

Otherwise, we are avid farmers market shoppers - organic and local is the way to go food-wise. Never thought about the evils as plastic, especially as my family has been in the industry so long. Food for thought....