A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to haul out the Easter decorations. It wasn't more than three minutes before my darling seven year old, Katherine and sweet four year old, Robert were brawling over what, to their eyes, was an exotic green plastic egg. The only one of its kind!
Bigger than average and decorated with flowers, no less! All the others were boring, small, insignificant in comparison to this gem. My entreaties that they "share the egg" fell on deaf ears, and so our decorating got off to a splendid start as I pulled the egg away and confiscated it.
Next they discovered the equally rare, in fact no doubt one-of-a-kind, BUNNY EGG! Yes, this special one is in the shape of an egg (its bottom) and has a bunny head that screws on top. Well that led to another near riot...
Finally I got them away from the eggs and prevailed upon them to put out a few decorations. Suddenly, Katherine announced, with no apparent provocation, "Mommy and Daddy are the Easter Bunny." To be honest, I am not even sure if Robert heard her. "Pssst," I whispered, motioning her to come into the family room with me...Robert remaining oblivious, busy playing with the neon Easter grass...and said, sotto voce, mind racing (but apparently not racing fast enough...) "If you don't want to believe in the Easter Bunny anymore, that is ok, but don't say anything in front of Robert!"
She looked up at me. "You mean you really are the Easter Bunny?" I immediately realized my error. I had jumped the gun. I should have ignored, or laughed off her "Mommy and Daddy" comment. What to do, what to do...
"Well," I waffled, "You know, Grandpa helps the Easter Bunny, right?" "But what about you and daddy," she pressed, "Are you the Easter Bunny, too?" I wanted to lie, I really did, I wanted to take it all back, but I couldn't think of any part of any child development literature that recommended flat out lying to your daughter as her blue eyes locked on yours. Nope, I never read that chapter in the parenting books.
So I admitted reluctantly, "Yes, Daddy and I are the Easter Bunny." She allowed barely a second for this to sink in before the next assault, "Are you Santa Claus, too?" Beyond even the hope of dissembling at this point, I simply said, "Yes. Yes, we are." She stood silent for a moment. In the background Robert started to fling the Easter grass. I cast around helplessly for something to say, something to make it all better and was able only to offer up a lame attempt at getting myself off the hook, "But you already knew about this, right? You heard about it at school, I bet." "No," she said, those blue eyes starting to well up, "No, I didn't."
Full-on sobbing commenced at this point, as I put my arm around her and led her to the couch. Robert finally took note of the drama unfolding nearby and waltzed over, trailing Easter grass, and with a couple of suspicious bulges in his pockets--more "unique" eggs I vaguely surmised-- too preoccupied to really care. I called for Clay (aka Daddy) to remove him before the story broke any further and then did my best to console an inconsolable Katherine.
I finally managed to cheer her up (a little) with the idea that from now on she's "in on the fun." She can help hide Robert's Easter eggs, she's a (gulp!) big girl. This provided her (and me) with some small degree of comfort, but not enough to erase the ache of losing both the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus all in one morning.
In the big picture, I confess maybe it is a relief to have had the Big Reveal sprung upon me so suddenly; to have it over and done with. It was quick, it was dirty, it was like pulling a band aid off with a flourish rather than peeling it off millimeter by millimeter, and maybe there is some good to that. She knows the truth now, and she learned it at home. She knows her mom won't look her in the eye and lie to her. She's growing up.