Alt-Parenting: Since When Does Peter Cottontail Shop at Walmart?

easterWith Easter around the corner, I’m looking forward to dying some eggs, putting together Easter baskets for my kids, and baking rice pies as an homage to my Italian heritage. What I’m not looking forward to, however, is pretending the Easter Bunny exists.

It’s not that I dislike holidays or have a problem perpetrating major fraud upon my children. To the contrary, I love the magic of childhood, especially Santa. I personally believed in the big guy until sixth grade and didn’t care that I got teased relentlessly about it. I never wavered in my belief until my mom told me the truth (you know, that’s Santa’s real but she’s the one who puts the gifts under the tree. Phew!).

My mom went to great lengths to convince me of Santa’s existence, which made Christmas seem all that more exciting. I want to do the same for my children, but only for Santa. I love everything he stands for: presents, hot chocolate, acceptance of excess fat and relaxing 11 months out of the year. Plus there’s actually a grain of truth to the Santa myth. St. Nicholas was a real person who espoused generosity. Kids can accept him in part (as in he’s real, but mom and dad put the gifts under the tree) or in whole (so it’s magic that gets his fat ass down our chimney???). That’s something I can work with, but the Easter Bunny? Come on now.

There’s just nothing fun about the Easter bunny. The mall version isn’t believable; even worse he’s beyond creepy. There aren’t clear rules: Does he hide eggs or leave the basket? Or both? Why do some kids get candy and some get toys? How does he get into our house? What’s his motive for bringing a gift? Worst of all, why can’t we use him as a disciplinary tool? He sucks and I don’t want him taking credit for the basket I buy or the eggs I hide.

Last year I had a glimmer of hope about debunking the bunny myth. My kids know that I, along with their aunts, hide the eggs in our yard after brunch. So when I slipped up and told my older son (then 7) that I bought his Easter basket, he got confused.

“But wait. If you hide the eggs, and buy the Easter basket, what does the Easter Bunny do?”

I seized my opportunity. “Actually, there is no Easter Bunny. You didn’t really believe in him anyway did you? A bunny who brings chocolate? Did you … believe?”  As I watched his face contort in confusion, I wondered if I’d made a mistake. Will he remember this day forever, and start questioning the other myths? I wasn’t ready to say farewell to Santa; not at age 7!

Then, as if I’d never spoken a word, his face brightened again and he responded, “So the Easter bunny brings the eggs you hide. I get it!” Denial is strong in this one. Clearly he wasn’t ready for the truth.

Knowing my child, this isn’t too surprising. If you read my article about that mother-f#$%@’ing elf on the shelf, you might recall how fervently my son believed that the mother-f#$%@’ing elf left him notes, found clever places to hide, and reported all behavior back to Santa. When he didn’t move (i.e., mommy had too much wine and forgot to move him), my son came up with wild explanations that were much more creative than the ones I could concoct on a moment’s notice.  On Christmas morning when the elf had departed for the North Pole, both boys cried real tears as they bade him farewell for another whole year. I experienced a different reaction, as I pictured that lecherous SOB hiding, once again, in my lingerie drawer.

Then there’s the tooth fairy.  My son recently lost a tooth and bemoaned the fact that she only left him $1. I reminded him that that’s what she left for the other teeth; it’s only the first tooth that gets a windfall. “No, ma. She left me $2 last time. You don’t know.” That’s right, smart-ass. How would I have a clue? Guess what? Next time she’s leaving you an IOU and a list of chores.

I realize that one day all these charming (and the not-so-charming) myths of childhood will be debunked. I’m hoping, however, that the Easter bunny will be the first to go. I’ll wait for just the right opportunity; perhaps when he’s opening his basket and finds that Plants vs. Zombies book he’s been coveting. Perhaps he’ll ponder: “How did the Easter Bunny know what I wanted? I didn’t give him a list or visit him at the mall.” (Because we’re not going there. No way.) If he’s bright enough to ask that question, my response is prepared. It will be quick and firm; no stuttering or wavering, just the truth: “It’s because there’s no such things as the Easter bunny. He’s not real. I buy the basket AND the eggs. Got it?”

If he chooses denial yet again, there’s nothing more I can say. If, however, he nods in assent, we can move forward and start planning for Santa’s Christmas Eve visit. Next up on my hit list: that mother-f#$%&’ing elf.

2 responses to “Alt-Parenting: Since When Does Peter Cottontail Shop at Walmart?”

  1. I saw that filthy rodent at the mall the other day…a life-sized rabbit is scary! No wonder the kids were all petrified to sit on it's lap.

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