The whole Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy/Santa Claus thing has been a tricky business for me. I mean, sure, it’s fun and all. I’ve always loved seeing my kids’ faces when they thought a giant, mythical bunny brought them candy and plastic eggs on Easter morning, or when a tiny little fairy flew into their rooms at night to steal their lost teeth. Santa’s the best one, right? A big fat guy who breaks into your house and leaves good children presents every year? I’m in. But what about when the kids grow up and start asking real questions? What do you say to them? My kids are 10 and 7 now, and I’ve been dreading these conversations lately. Easter this year was when the sh*t hit the fan.
We were on the way to my brother’s house for our annual Easter egg hunt with his family, when a little voice piped up from the back seat. It was Lily, my first grade daughter, and she said “Mom, is the Easter Bunny really real?” (I have to add that I’m totally not cool with this new “mom” thing- they’ve always called me “mommy” until they recently decided they were too cool for that). Anyway, there it was. The dreaded moment when my sweet, innocent Lily is asking me if her beloved Easter Bunny was real or if I’d been lying to her for her entire life. As soon as the words left her mouth I knew I was screwed. Of course Ayden had to chime in and ask “Yeah! Is he real? My friends said he’s not real.” Crap. If it was just Lily asking I probably could have distracted her or changed the subject and we would have been golden. With both of them asking together I felt cornered, and my face in the rear-view mirror must have totally given me away, because there was no more denying it. They knew.
I can’t remember how the conversation went. Basically I told them that no, the Easter Bunny was indeed not real, and I confessed that it was me and Daddy who bought them all of their Easter goodies every year. I told them I didn’t think it was really lying to them, but more of just a fun, harmless thing a lot of parents do for their kids to make Easter fun. I told them that I wasn’t really sure why we do the whole bunny thing and that it’s just something that my parents did with me and my brothers when we were little, and so I did it for my kids now too. It’s something parents look forward to…at least I always did. I remember being a kid and thinking “When I grow up I’m going to do this for Christmas with my kids.” It’s nice to know that even as a child I was still making my obsessively neurotic mental checklists. Some things never change.
Anyway, the kids weren’t buying the whole “I-wasn’t-lying-to-you-I-was-just-trying-to-make-a-holiday-fun-for-you” thing. Ayden wasn’t saying much- I’m pretty sure he already knew but had been kind of going along with it because of Lily. He’s in 4th grade after all, and is going to be 11 soon. She was pouting big time though. She had still believed and wanted to continue believing. She’s still little! I was trying to think of what to say or do next because we were just heading to an Easter egg hunt that was sure to be packed with younger kids and a lot of talk about the Easter Bunny. I couldn’t let my kids blab it to everyone. I couldn’t be that mom whose kids ruined Easter for the other kids. I had to do damage control.
“Listen, I’m sorry about the Easter Bunny thing. But you have a 2 year old cousin and a baby sister…you can’t tell them it’s not real. You guys are the big kids and you’re in on it now, so you have pretend and go along with it like you still believe too. As long as there’s no more talk about how the Easter Bunny isn’t real, he will continue to visit you every year and bring you Easter baskets, got it?”
They did. We got to the party and when Grandma handed them her little Easter baskets they didn’t let on to what had just gone down in the car on the way over. They also played along with the other kids and their conversations about what the Bunny brought them in their baskets at home. I have some great kids!
Fast-forward to yesterday, when Lily came home from school with a missing tooth. Right after showing me, she asks “Is the Tooth Fairy like the Easter Bunny? You know…is it really just you?” I laughed and quickly told her no, but she knew. I sighed and rolled my eyes and said “Yes! It’s me! I’m the Tooth Fairy too! I sneak into your room at night and take your tooth and leave you money. Are you happy now?” She was quiet and then said “Well, what do you do with my teeth?” Hahahahaha. I laughed so hard, and marched straight into my room to retrieve their teeth from the same place I keep our important papers. I file away their teeth with the birth certificates and report cards. Along with their teeth I also found a little Ziploc bag with a ponytail of Lily’s hair from when she had her first big-girl hair cut. She was so weirded out that I had a bag full of her hair! All moms keep that stuff, right?
Anyway, Lily woke up this morning proudly clutching her two dollars the Tooth Fairy had left her. I asked her if the tooth was gone and she smiled and nodded. She didn’t object when I mentioned the Tooth Fairy, and as long as there’s no more talk about it she can still cash in on her remaining baby teeth. I’m pretty sure the cash is the incentive here, and it’s not just for the sake of their poor old mom.
I’m looking forward to some great conversation when December rolls around! Santa should be a fun one.