(Warning: this article includes a discussion about the existence of certain characters. Please do not let your believing children read this since I do not want to be responsible for being that big, mean lady who spoiled all the fun.)
This year is a big year for me. Well, for the parenting part of me. We are sending our oldest off to college in the fall, our son will be entering high school and my youngest are on the verge of disbelief - mythical character disbelief to be specific.
When I picked the girls up from school earlier this week they stated that one of their classmates didn't believe in the Easter Bunny and then they asked me, "Can you believe that?"
Now I'm not an inexperienced parent, nor is this my first time round the Easter basket. I've successfully navigated these types of questions for eleven years. But something about this conversation had me on edge. I got the feeling that my girls are choosing to believe there is an eight foot cartoon bunny that will enter our locked house in the middle of the night despite their common sense, simply because I told them there was.
And by told them I mean we set out baskets every Easter eve. The bunny doesn't bring much, there's no big toys or expensive prizes in their basket, mostly candy and trinkets. We don't even really talk about the bunny. "If you're not good he won't come" has never been said at our house nor does he hide eggs. It's our tradition that the older siblings hide eggs for the younger kids.
When it comes to Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny we've taken the same stance for years, "As long as you believe they are real they are" and since my other children have discovered the truth without needing therapy I always assumed such would be the case with the youngest of our tribe.
Nonetheless, at eight and a half years of age my girls are getting old enough to know better and suddenly the fun and imagination that is coupled with one of the most cherished Christian holidays of the year seems like a con.
You might be disappointed to know I didn't answer my daughter's question that day. I felt stunned to have been pinned down so directly by her question, which is embarrassing because I feel quite prepared for the day when she asks me how babies are made. Even I can't believe I was stumped by the questionable visit of a rabbit.
Thankfully, the conversation took a turn and the topic about the nerve of some unbelieving children never came up again. And yet Easter is just hours away and my pantry is full of chocolate, peanut butter eggs and jellybeans. I am in a quandary, people.
If a lie is wrapped up in a tradition does that make it acceptable? If my children feel betrayed will they doubt my motherly wisdom in the future? And most importantly, if the Easter Bunny doesn't bring candy who will?
Of course, historically speaking Easter isn't even about candy and eggs and rabbits. Easter is a holy day for followers of Jesus and I have always tried to incorporate its message of hope into all of my parenting philosophies. But as my children grow older, wiser and move on I sense that it is time to update some of our traditions.
I don't know exactly how the rabbit's visit will play out this weekend but I can tell you one thing; while I am compelled to do my very best parenting job for my children's sake I will miss the innocence parenting young children can bring.
However, on the upside, I imagine that if the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa are outed as frauds perhaps I can begin to expect to save quite a bit of money. Now there is something I can believe in! Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!
(This article appears in The Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. My articles cover a variety of topics and have garnered me some local celebrity-ish notoriety. To read more of my articles click here.)