This past weekend was, for some of us, Easter Weekend. And, no, this isn’t about to be about religious beliefs or different spiritual traditions – this is about the all-important question of, well, the Easter Bunny.
My ten-year-old is a jumble of personalities. He can be so incredibly sweet – making sure to grab that extra lollipop for his sister or worrying that his baby brother feels scared and alone when put into his crib for bed. At the same time, he can easily whack that brother in the head with a soccer ball or say the most obnoxious thing to his sister. “It’s not my fault!” rolls off the tongue much more easily than “I love you, Mom,” I’m sorry to say.
And as Saturday night rolled around, it was his question I was dreading: “Mom, is there really an Easter Bunny?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. It isn’t the first time this has come up. In fact, it isn’t the first kid that I’ve had to go through this with. Lucy, my now 12-year-old, however, went about it in a different way. She sat me down one summer – well outside of any concerning calendar events – and said, “Mama, I need to ask you a question. And I need you to promise me that you’ll tell me the absolute truth.”
Given that she was about six at the time, the answer was a no brainer. “Of course,” I said. I couldn’t imagine not telling her the truth about whatever she wanted to know.
Except then the question came: “There’s not really an Easter bunny, right?”
So I stammered and backpedaled and looked for a way out of the promise I’d just made. And in my very unhelpful silence, she followed it up with, “I mean, is there really a big bunny that walks around and brings candy to, like, everyone in the world?”
That one I could answer easily. “Not everyone in the world celebrates Easter, Luce.”
The withering glare she gave me indicated that she wasn’t falling for the stalling bit, not even a little.
So you’d think that when the question was raised by Will all these years later that I would have had my wits about me. Especially because, as I said, it wasn’t the first time he’d asked. He, too, began to question the existence of a six-foot tall rabbit bearing chocolate and jelly beans. Being a second/third/fourth grader these days doesn’t allow for much in terms of innocence. But in previous years he asked in such a way that it was more than easy to brush off the question; I got the sense that he was more than happy to be allowed to believe.
This year was a little bit different. He’s ten, after all; a world weary fifth grader. He’s walked through CVS and Target and seen all the candy displays. So this time when he asked, I decided to go with the words that his sister had handed me years ago.
“Well,” I said, my heart pounding loudly, “it’s not like there’s a big bunny that walks around handing out candy.”
I know. You’re hoping that his answer was a casual shrug and a smile and a “Yeah, I kind of figured.” Right? Because that’s what I was hoping the answer would be too. I mean, he’s ten. World weary and all that.
But when he looked at me, there was disappointment in his eyes. “Really?” he said, in a sad kind of way.
Then came the shrug and the answer I’d hoped for, but I knew it wasn’t real.
So I quickly and wholeheartedly said, “But I believe.”
Thank goodness he didn’t ask me in what – because I couldn’t with a good conscience continue with the six-foot-bunny thing. But he gave me that sweet innocent smile and then he nodded happily.
And you know what? I do believe. (So don’t get me started on Santa.)