Have you seen that meme on Facebook about the Easter bunny during quarantine? It says “So….I think we should all be on the same page. Are we telling the kids the Easter Bunny got Coronavirus or that Carole Baskin killed him?”
Well, whichever way you decided to go for your own kids, I broke it for mine. One of them, anyway. Last Easter was officially the last Easter that my little middle-ager trapped in a kid’s body believed in the Easter bunny. And it’s all my fault. She’s 9 years old, soon to be 10 this week. We will call her Mary Ann in honor of Mamaw Cross the Bridge (who thought the actual name I picked for her was horrible and requested very nearly on her death bed that I reconsider and name my daughter Mary Ann).
And before we go any further, I just feel like I should share with you that I know there are parents who think it’s wrong to lie to your kids about Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. To that I say, my kids have had a lot of crappy things in their life lately, and if there’s some small commercialized part of a holiday that makes them smile, we’re going to hold onto it for dear life until they hit their teens or figure it out on their own. If you don’t share my belief, I totally get it. Agree to disagree, Amen and Amen.
Anyway, a few days ago, when it was time to go for groceries, I decided I would buy them at Target so I could get some Easter shopping done too. (Mary Ann, who has actually asked me in the past if she could get septic from a paper cut, thinks that stepping foot inside Wal-Mart right now means you have a death wish because she thinks you’re much more likely to get Covid 19 there than at Target since there are so many people. So into Target I go).
I on purpose didn’t really ask the kids what they wanted from the Easter Bunny because I had no idea what would be available. Plus, I always end up getting toys or movies and things for the basket instead of just candy even if I promise myself I’m not going to spend that much. So I figured whatever I saw would jump out at me, and that would be that. Well, I underestimated the power of Coronavirus on Target. I did manage to find Easter baskets, plastic eggs, and that horrible stringy paper to go in the bottom of the basket. And I found chocolate bunnies. But there wasn’t any of the cute Easter chalk, or wind-up walking baby chicks. I was scared that if I got them stuffed animals they would be contaminated with the virus, so I start thinking about what they can use at home while they’re stuck in the house on a rainy Easter. I settle on an X-box gift card for my son since his only joy in life right now is video games, and an iTunes gift card for my girl since her iPad is basically an appendage at this point.
But the baskets just look so pitiful with just candy and eggs and a gift card. So then I think, “books. They need to read more anyway.” And I head for the book section. FYI, as far as book selection goes, Target is pretty good in case you’re wondering. I found the perfect book right away for Benjamin Button— a children’s book called “I Need a New Butt” which is all about this little boy that thinks his butt is defective because he realizes one day it has a crack in it. It was $9 in paperback and worth every cent. He loves it. For Mary Ann, I was looking for a chapter book.
She and I have passed many, many hours watching movies on Netflix, and her favorite lately is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” We’ve listened to the audiobook together before (yes in the Jeep, Rambo—you can take my Jeep card later) and I didn’t remember finding anything too objectionable in it. So when I saw that one on the shelf, I thought she would love it. I was pretty happy with myself for making decent Easter baskets during the apocalypse, and went on about my business. This morning, I put out the baskets before the kids wake up, leave to get my iced coffee and some donuts for breakfast, and don’t think anything else about it.
When I get home, Mary Ann is on her iPad chatting it up with a friend, showing off her loot. At this point, I’m still thinking I did a good job picking out the books. Then she gets off the phone, and says, “Mom, is the Easter Bunny affiliated with Jesus?” (Yes, she really uses those words).
Well, I have no idea where this is going, and I’m in a rush to get out of the house for church, so I distractedly say, “I don’t know, why?” This is where the mother of the year material starts. She says to me, “Well, I don’t think the Easter Bunny would go against Jesus or anything. But I’m wondering if I should be reading this book. Don’t you remember when we listened to the audiobook it had some bad words in it? I just don’t know if God would want me to read this book. But I don’t think the Easter Bunny would go against God.”
So now, I’m pretty much feeling two inches tall because my 9-year-old (apparently a better Christian than me) is feeling convicted about the book I proudly put in her Easter basket. So, I tell her maybe it was a mistake and we can get her another book, just put that one on the counter and we can return it later. Strike one for Easter 2020. I don’t have too much time to wallow in my failure though, because we’re about to be late for church on the most important Lord’s day of the year.
Since we’re only having drive-up service, there are no “Easter dresses” this year. So I throw on a baseball cap with my t-shirt and jeans, and Mary Ann keeps her tank top and sweatpants, and we get in the car to go to church. That’s when strike number two happens. Apparently I was in such rush to put together Easter baskets that I didn’t think to throw away the Target bags. I just opened the bags of candy, split them between the two baskets, then stuff all the trash into them, and toss them in the backseat.
Mary Ann hops in the back seat while I’m starting the car, and she says, “Mom! What is this?” And she holds up the Target bags with a disbelieving look on her face and eyes wide with shock. “You put together our Easter baskets!” I try to avoid the accusation and just say, “I got groceries at Target this week.” And she says, “But the same candy that was in our baskets has wrappers in these bags! I believed a lie my whole life!”
Then the bottom lip goes out, and my normally tough girl who refuses to let anyone see her cry starts with the quivering chin. “Uncle Jesse! I asked him straight up and he LIED to me!” What am I supposed to do now?
So I fess up, and I tell her that it doesn’t matter who puts together her Easter basket. All she needs to know is that someone loves her enough to go to the trouble, and that Easter isn’t about an Easter Bunny anyway. Then I want to cry because it’s my first Easter without my mom, and I so desperately want to call her and tell her that I bought Mary Ann a book that she’s convicted over, and then I left the evidence in the back of the Jeep and now not only does Mary Ann have a slew of dead grandparents this Easter, she also doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore, but I can’t. Well, Mary Ann must’ve seen all this on my face, because she grabs my hand from the back seat and says, “It’s OK mom. I’m not mad at you. I guess you making it is better than some creepy giant bunny being in our house anyway.” And we start to leave the driveway for church, and I think I’m in the clear.
It’s quiet for a few minutes, and then she says, “Mom, do we need to talk about Santa?” Not so fast sister, I’m only emotionally capable of handling one ruined holiday at a time, so I say “We’ve talked about enough hard questions today. We’re not talking about it.” (Mature, I know).
So she says, “You sit on a throne of lies! You smell like beef and cheese! You don’t smell like Santa!” (For those of you who haven’t seen Elf, shame on you. Go watch it, and you’ll understand. Mary Ann and I can quote the entire movie). I smile because it’s exactly what I would’ve said if I was her, and I continue to avoid the question, thinking instead how awesome it is that Mary Ann inherited mine and her uncle’s ability to quote entire move scripts.
The good news is, Mary Ann agreed not to tell Benjamin Button, so I still have one kid who can enjoy what’s left of his childhood. But my middle-aged housewife trapped in a 9-year-old body? She’s gonna need therapy. Maybe she’ll grow up to be a writer and all these broken dreams will provide her with ample material to carve out a living. I hope so. Because chances are, the next loose tooth is going to come with a mouthful of questions about the Tooth Fairy. And like I said, I can only handle ruining one holiday/milestone at a time. Pray saints pray.