"Is the Easter Bunny real? Because [friend's name] says the Easter Bunny isn't real. Tell me the truth."
Not a conversation I expected to have with my five year old two days before Easter. I dodged it: "Well, I've never seen him myself, but I wonder who would put all that candy in our yard, if not him…"
Then, today, just one day before Easter, my six year old comes to me, perplexed. "Mom, Maddie says the Easter Bunny isn't real. Do you put all that candy in our baskets?"
"Well, what do you think?" I asked, holding my breath.
"I think she's wrong. I think he's real….But do you put the candy in?"
"It's a surprise." I smiled and winked and hightailed it out of the room.
That night, after the kids were tucked in bed, I joined a half a dozen other bleary eyed parents at Walgreen's, filling my shopping cart with enough sugar to put the dentist's children through college. I began to feel a little resentment toward Maddie's young friend. Why had she spoiled the fun? My kids still seem so young to me. Shouldn't I have a few good years of magic left?
Okay, so maybe it's not fair to get mad at a little girl who just happened to figure things out and share her new found discoveries with her friends, but….I was still worried a bit about how to navigate this new territory with my own little ones. How would I preserve the fun and magic of the tradition? Would the kids be angry, disappointed, sad? Or worse, would they stop believing me altogether?
I paid and sighed and headed home. In the living room I began the assembly process. Plastic grass, chocolate bunnies, Peeps, etc. My heart just wasn't in it anymore. Aaron sat with me, cross legged on the floor, filling plastic eggs with small candies.
Just then, who should pop around the corner, but our little night owl, Maddie. Really?? It was after ten o'clock! She was grinning ear to ear. "I just need to get my fairies out of my backpack." Aaron leapt up and ran to block her view. After she collected her dolls, we directed her back to her room.
"Did she see?" I whispered nervously.
"Yeah. She said, 'I knew you and mom bought the candy!'" He was shaking his head.
I marched to Maddie's room and sat on her bed. She sat across from me, and I tilted my head, raising my brows, giving my best serious look. "We need to talk."
She tried to hide her grin - a good sign. Looks like I hadn't scarred her for life.
"Maddie, you get to be a part of something really special now. It's the Easter surprise. Remember how mommy doesn't like secrets, but surprises are okay since everyone gets to find out about them in the end?"
"Well, this is a special surprise, and you found out before any of the other kids in our house. Most kids don't get to find out about this surprise until they are older. So it's very important you don't tell Jack and Parker yet. I'll let you tell them in a few years, okay?"
"So, yes, mommies and daddies do put the candy in the baskets and the eggs at Easter. We get to be the Easter Bunny. And now, you get to join in the magic and be the Easter Bunny, too! You are the youngest Easter Bunny I have ever met! Want to come help?"
She bounded out of bed and ran into the living room. "I want to do everything!" she announced. She filled baskets and eggs and oohed and aahed about the toys the boys were "going to love!"
And just like that, the Easter magic had returned. And it was beautiful.