Friday, April 3, 2015

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Like many children this time of year, Delilah has been looking forward to Easter with gusto. "Will you help me find all the eggs mama?" "I CAN'T WAIT FOR CANDY!" "Will there be an Easter day parade?"
The first order of business every morning lately has been checking the calendar to see if it is April 5th yet. She's excited to find hidden eggs, excited for a nice family meal, excited to spend a night at Grandma Bev's since she doesn't have school on Monday. 
So she asked if she could stay up to see the Easter Bunny come tomorrow night. And she straight up lost it when I suggested that the bunny might not come if she was awake.


Clinging to me. Sobbing. Streams of tears.

I looked at my husband in desperation.

"I'm not sure what this right here has to do with the magic of imagination." 

I've had a "just go with it" policy when it comes to imaginary figures like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I've just let her come to her own conclusions based on what she hears about such characters, and have avoided confirming or denying their existence. I've always said that if my children believe, that's fine, but if they come right out and ask me if these characters are real, I will tell them the truth.

As it appeared, she believes. As it appeared, this belief was leading to more anxiety and upset than magic and fun. 

So my husband and I sat her down together. We explained that what we celebrate at Easter is the fertility of the earth and the new life that Spring brings. We explained that the Easter bunny is a fun story and that lots of parents hide eggs or put things in baskets to make the story even more fun, and that it's up to her if she wants to believe the story or not. 

I was pretty nervous about how this would go down. I wasn't sure we were doing the right thing. 

The more we talked, the more we explained, the more calm she became. The truth was a lot easier for her to understand and handle than "the bunny won't come if you're awake." We assured her that there will be baskets and eggs. We showed her a picture of her father dressed up as the Easter bunny from way back when. She asked if she could watch a video about the Easter bunny, and she did so, happily. She's now looking dreamily out the window and singing a song she made up about the Easter bunny coming to town. 

Delilah's Dad as the Easter Bunny in the late 90s

Maybe we stole some of the magic and ruined some of the fun, but maintaining it did not seem worth her utter despair.