I started stoking Little Boy’s brain with the Easter Bunny myth about three weeks ago, when we happened upon a free poster promoting the book E. Aster Bunnymund. “That’s the Easter Bunny,” I explained, hesitant to use such a militant-looking rabbit as our visual point of reference, but at least he looked official. “Soon, he will come to our house and — only if you’re a very good boy – hide a basket filled with candy and toys for you to find! Won’t that be fun?”
Little Boy looked a little shocked. Not doubtful, not suspicious, but surprised that this amazing event was so close and we never mentioned it before. He had all sorts of questions: “How big is the Easter Bunny? What will he bring? When does he come? Will we see him?” I assured Little Boy that, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny came only when we were sleeping and we would never see him. This seemed to satisfy him until a few days ago, when he randomly turned to me and asked “Does the Easter Bunny come to my bed when I’m sleeping?” There was a hint of fear in his voice.
“Oh, never,” I said. “He’s scared of people. He’s like the bunnies we see in our yard, always running away from us.” I was bracing myself for the big question: Why? Why does the Easter Bunny hide a basket of candy and toys in our house, especially if he’s scared of us? But I have never, ever heard Little Boy utter this word, “why.” I’m expecting it to come one day, like an avalanche.
Concurrently with all this, Mr. P was explaining his Gallic version of Easter morning, which involves finding eggs and candies hidden all about the house. I guess we should have gotten our stories straight, because my version of Easter morning was simply finding a hidden basket. When we discovered we were feeding Little Boy two different stories, Little Boy choose to believe me; he told Mr. P he was wrong about the Easter Bunny hiding eggs and candies. Because Mommy is judged to be the authority on mythical house invaders!
But leading up to Easter, my brain was certifiable mush from cramming and sitting for the GREs (I smoked the Verbal section, attaining a score that astounded even myself and that would make me eligible to enter pretty much any Grad school even if I bombed on the Math. Which is good, because I sort-of-kind-of bombed the Math.) I forgot to buy egg dye and other Easter-related decorations that would have enhanced the whole Easter experience, rather than having it seem like some random, creepy visit from a giant basket-bearing bunny. It occurred to me that we could tell Little Boy pretty much anything and he would believe it. “Oh, tonight a dragon will come into our house when we’re sleeping and make us a cake. And next week, a unicorn will sneak into your room and steal all the broken and/or age inappropriate toys. And every day, an old woman climbs through the kitchen window and rips out a few more of Mommy’s hairs.”
But, for all my holiday failings, I did manage to hide the basket in a floor-level kitchen cupboard on Saturday night. I thought it was an easy hiding place, forgetting that 3 year olds have very simplistic ideas about “hiding.” We went from room to room, and he would look around and say “It’s not here,” not looking in any drawers or closets or under any furniture. “Maybe Easter Bunny didn’t come,” he said, getting very sad after we had walked around the whole house.
“I know he came,” I said. “I heard him… in the kitchen! Let’s look in the kitchen!”
I had to prompt him several times to open the cabinets, and when he opened the right one, he didn’t react at all to the sight of the purple and green basket sitting on top of some pans. I then realized he didn’t even know what his Easter Basket looked like. I made an excited noise and he finally reacted to the sight of a Matchbox car sticking out from the basket. I pulled it out and gave it to him, and he yipped and yapped around, and he promptly wanted to simultaneously eat all the candy and play with all the little toys.
“I knew that I heard the Easter Bunny in the kitchen,” I said.
“Me too. I heard him too, Mama,” Little Boy told me solemnly.