This year we decided to try something a little different around Easter time. I wanted to dye eggs, because it’s fun and they’re pretty and I knew Nora would love it.
So we did, with natural egg dyes made from annatto seed, curcumin, purple sweet potato and red cabbage.
Nora was amazed at the transformation of her eggs after a few minutes soak, and we talked about celebrating spring: how plants start growing again and most animals give birth as winter melts away. I told her the real reason for celebrating eggs this time of year: that (in a world where chickens aren’t tricked into laying year-round) springtime is when egg laying starts back up again. I’m sure Nora didn’t understand it all, but we talked while coloring and I was content to be able to give her a reason for the fun project.
Then, I talked Chris into doing an egg hunt, because who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? And, really, searching our house for 10 brightly-colored eggs has to be good for critical thinking and all sorts of other skills, right?
Not to mention, I have such fond memories of my own childhood egg hunts, which always ended with a bigger surprise at the end. I wanted to see that same joy on Nora’s face.I wasn’t disappointed.
For the first time, our holiday weekend looked a lot like a typical holiday weekend. We dyed eggs and we hid them; and, in a natural progression from planning an egg hunt, even talked about The Bunny. It seemed to be pretty much unavoidable since all of her friends were talking about him and he was everywhere.
Even skating at the ice rink.
So, we did it. We told Nora that “the bunny” (we didn’t use the word “Easter” much) was going to come while she was sleeping to hide the eggs she had dyed. At first, I wasn’t sure if Nora understood the concept, but after seeing him at the ice skating rink Saturday, she was incredibly excited. So excited that she forgot the “while you’re sleeping” part and spent all Saturday afternoon talking about all the fun things she was going to do with the bunny on Sunday. Apparently, Nora thought he was so magical he was even going to teach her how to pedal her tricycle.
It was really sweet but it was also more than a little worrisome. Anytime I tried to suggest that she would be sleeping and wouldn’t see him, tears started to flow. I felt horrible and feared massive disappointment Sunday morning. I felt so guilty about the fact that I was letting her get excited about something that couldn’t happen. More than once I thought about telling her he wasn’t real. When she wanted to leave him carrots just like she feeds Farmer Ray’s bunnies, I went along but I also wondered if I was letting it go too far. Luckily, Sunday morning, Nora was so excited about finding eggs and her surprise that she forgot she had wanted to play with the Easter bunny. But still, I wonder if I did the right thing talking about the Easter bunny and I’m not sure if we’ll do it again next year.
I’ve written quite a bit about the conflict I feel around creating or maintaining traditions at Christmas time; Easter is no different. I don’t why I have such guilt about spinning tales about large egg-hiding rabbits; it is certainly different from all the things I don’t like about Santa. But still, I’m not sold that is the way to go. I very much want to encouraging imagination and magical possibilities, but I wonder about the line between creating fun memories and betraying trust. As the tears started to flow Saturday afternoon I kept wondering if it was really worth it, especially because I think she would have enjoyed the egg hunt just as much if she knew I had hidden them.
Does every parent feel bad as they lie to their child about such things, or is it just me?