Thanks, Easter Bunny

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.

the tearful sketch

the tearful sketch

“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.










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15 comments on “Thanks, Easter Bunny
  1. Will Partenheimer says:

    Making memories! Beautifully written. I have missed your posts. Happy Easter to you and your family.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you, Will. I’ve missed my blog. Other things in life have hijacked my time. Only one way for me to process tonight’s meltdown. Happy Easter to you and your family….

  2. Carol Shirley says:

    The Easter Bunny, Santa, Tooth Fairy…yes they are real…they are magic, gifts of love and with love they live in our hearts.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you, Carol. Beautifully put and I couldn’t agree more. We tried this tactic last night. It didn’t work too well in the heat of his epiphany..but I think it will after he gets over his shock. Happy Easter to you!

  3. Kimberly Duckworth says:

    After meeting him at the Madrens I could tell he was a sensitive soul! Breaks my heart for his disappointment but the magic will reappear in so many life experiences. Keep writing because you are so good at it!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you so much, Kimberly. Good lord, the boy is sensitive! Instead of wishing he weren’t so sensitive I tell myself, ‘celebrate the child you have instead of the child you wish you had.’ I have to do things like that. He will be an amazing dad one day because he is so emotionally connected to others. He will be just fine. But on Good Friday night? Man, we almost made it.

  4. Barb McWethy says:

    When my boys were little they didn’t realize that the Santa they saw at all their school events (from preschool to elementary) was their grandfather. As they each finally realized that Santa wasn’t as real as they thought, I would call him and on our next visit he would take that child upstairs, show him the suit and swear him to secrecy. It was so much fun to see the looks of excitement on some, and the look of “I’m part of the magic” on their faces. He is upset now, but when he’s older you will have a great memory to share.
    Happy Easter to you and your family!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Barb, that is so wonderful. What a gift that grandpa was also Santa..that really is magical. ‘I’m part of the magic’ is a good way to put it. Some have suggested we let him help with surprises for his little sister, so he feels grown up and in charge of magic. I love that plan. Thank you for sharing. Happy Easter!!

  5. Susan Decrescenzo says:

    Great to read a blog from you again. Miss your insights. I can’t even remember when I learned that there was no Easter Bunny. At 64, your memory becomes “fuzzy”, pun intended. However what I do remember is fond memories of large Italian family gatherings, lots of food and good times hearing family stories, playing with cousins and enjoying the day. Now my parents are gone, and cousins and siblings are spread all over the country. And I miss those big family dinners. I guess if you instill the love of family, you child will recover from life’s little disappointments too. Hoppy Easter.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Susan, thank you for writing. I’m not italian but that is what holidays were in my youth, too. Giant family tables and kid tables and games played outside. And now my family is spread across the country. But we have remade our gatherings with friends, so our children know that the community of others who love them is the best thing you can have. My little man will be fine. Happy Easter to you….

  6. Lynn Harasin Johnson says:

    It amazes me that your boy made it to ten still believing in those things. My brother dashed my beliefs when I was five.
    He is a great artist. His sad bunny, added to his pleas, breaks my heart. It was a joy seeing you both again. Love, Lynn

  7. Lynn Harasin Johnson says:

    It amazes me that your boy made it to ten still believing in those things. My brother dashed my beliefs when I was five.
    He is a great artist. His sad bunny, added to his pleas, breaks my heart. It was a joy seeing you both again. Love, Lynn

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I LOVE that he believed until he was 10 years old! Cherish these little bits of childhood because they are fleeting and will soon be happy memories. And you are so right…the best is yet to come.

  9. Mary MacDonald says:

    I just love, love, love your writings. Just read the one about your Mom during the Rio Olympics. You are so talented and I feel so blessed to receive your emails.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Mary, I just love, love, love that you read my essays! Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot.

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