Murphy’s Law of parenthood is that approximately 17 seconds after you sit down with your Friday night cocktail in hand, your ten year old will appear on the patio, lower lip trembling.
“Johnny said it’s your parents. The Easter Bunny..he saw them. It was his parents.”
He is ten, almost 11 years old. He had announced to us that he was going to stay up all night this year to see the Easter Bunny. He had marched off to school and told his friends his plan. And ONE kid, whose real name I won’t reveal here, just had to tell him. Because shared suffering is better? Because the blow is somehow mollified if shouldered by other fourth graders?
“Why did you lie about the Easter Bunny?” He stares at us, not angry — more disappointed. It is the first time I’ve seen a familiar expression from my mother superimposed on my child’s face.
He is at the kitchen table now, having fled the patio, images of the Easter Bunny staring at him on the iPad, sketching away, a tribute to a closely held belief that has suddenly vanished.
“Why?” The tears slip down his smooth cheeks, his fingers clenching his pencil.
His dad and I look at each other. You say something. No, you say something.
“Because the Easter Bunny is about the spirit of Easter. It’s about God’s love for us. It’s about rebirth.” My husband attempts the explanation. My mute button has been pushed, something my mother would have paid dearly for, back in my childhood.
I sit next to him as he sketches, rubbing his back.
“Why?” he utters every few minutes, the spasms coursing through him. Then he takes a deep breath and resumes his picture.
How can I explain this? That we have lied to him and his sister for a decade so they would believe in magic, in things that are impossible, that no reasonable person would believe.
He looks up, horrified anew. “Does this mean the Tooth Fairy isn’t real?” He stares at us, disgusted. “At least I know Santa is real,” he announces. He goes back to work and I’m relieved to be free of his gaze.
It’s worth it. It’s worth it. It’s worth it.
Those are the words running through my head. When you think reindeer can fly, a man in a red suit will reward you for goodness, and baskets of candy will appear on your doorstep, life is magic.
If you do good, magic will come to you.
I have a friend who told his kids from day 1, “There is no Santa/ToothFairy/Easter Bunny. It’s us.” He didn’t think it was fair to lie to his kids.
I can respect that, but I vehemently disagree.
What my son can’t yet understand, but what I know, is that life is loaded with magic.
Stars. Bearded men in plaid shirts who show up after your divorce. Clean sheets. A home cooked dinner delivered by a friend. A 3rd paycheck in a month. A negative strep test. A positive pregnancy test. Remission. Remarriage. Prolonged belly laughter. Watching someone trip. Your water breaking in a Waffle House. The words, I love you, Mama. The way the world sounds after it snows. Dreaming you can fly. Answered prayers for a sick friend. Sparklers on the 4th of July.
My son will forgive us.
The Easter Bunny and Santa are only primers for the good stuff — the kind of stuff that makes you wish you could live forever — like husbands and wives and children and parents and lifelong friends.
Here’s to bunny suits, and the continuous renewal of this magical thing called life.