Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My 6 Year Old Doesn't Believe in the Easter Bunny

On Easter Sunday evening Owen was in the kitchen and noticed on the counter some scraps of tissue paper left over from the papier mache eggs I made for the Easter baskets, and he looked up at me and said, "Mom, are you and Dad the Easter Bunny?  You are--aren't you?"

To preface that question, we've been a bit busy recently.  We were gone for spring break, then Jeremy was gone to a conference for a week, then he spent the last week taking his preliminary exam for his PhD.  So really, I was behind on things like--putting out Easter decorations etc.  So to tell the truth--I don't think the word "Easter Bunny" was spoken in our house one single time before Easter this year. 

I'm really not big on indoctrinating my children with worldly traditions.  Because for their first few years, they don't even get what the traditions are all about.  Then maybe for 2-3 years they "know" who Santa clause or the Easter bunny are enough to anticipate them, but then they become old enough to realize they are not real.  So I don't really feel the need to push these ideas on my children for only a year or two of actual beleif (in something that's not real).

But for sure I love the traditions themselves.  When Owen, our first, was about 22 months old, Easter Sunday was approaching.  So for the last few mornings in the week preceding Easter, I had Owen check on his little basket first thing.  It was empty, empty, empty, and then one morning it was full!  There were treats and a little wind-up chicken that laid jelly bean eggs.  What fun!  He was so excited.  But I didn't tell him it was from a magic Easter bunny.

Jeremy is studying Creativity for his PhD, and he recently read of a study where kids were show clips of a Harry Potter movie--some of them watching scenes where "magic" was being used, and some were shown "non-magic" scenes.  Then they were asked to do a creativity exercise.  The children who watched the magic scenes before the exercise showed more creativity in their responses.  So if I want creative children shouldn't I convince them that the Tooth Fairy is real? I don't think that we have to believe the magic is real in order to enjoy pretending the magic is real.  Else why would Harry Potter be so popular to adults as well as children? 

So Owen and I have talked this Easter, and last Christmas (when we read a book about Christmas traditions all over the world) about "isn't it fun?" to do this, or pretend that?  And what do you think?  Could it be, maybe?  But I am not going to insult his intelligence, once he has figured things out to say, "No I'm not the Easter bunny, the Easter bunny magically goes all over the world in one night hopping around and delivering all that candy you saw in the store last week to little baskets.

So back to his question--I answered it truthfully, because I had not been trying to convince him there was an Easter bunny in the first place.  (Though I did encourage him to let people that wanted to believe have their fun.)  My guess is that the kids were all talking about it at school--that's where he was being encouraged in the idea that there was an Easter bunny coming, and that's also where other (older?) children may have sown his seeds of of doubt that there may not be an Easter bunny.  So I just let it be.

We won't stop celebrating the tradition of surprise-filled baskets on Easter morning, because I still think that's fun.  And we don't have to believe it's real to believe it's fun.  And the other truth of the matter is, for Christmas, Easter, or any occasion when surprises "magically appear"  I find it very hard to keep it all a secret in a home where I am trying more and more every year to include more homemade among the surprises.  But will my children be deprived for receiving baskets full of unique homemade surprises and treats instead of a basket full of  the traditional (from my childhood too) supermarket treats? 

I think not.

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