So I've messed up my first holiday. Yep. It's only my third time doing Easter as The Bunny and I've already slipped up. Kaleb stumbled upon my stash, which I had strategically left outside in the van until the kids were in bed. He charged into the house so excited he could hardly talk.
"Mom, mom, mom. Is all that stuff in the van for us? Can I see it? Can I touch it? Can I play with it?"
The current tradition is to get the kids just a few things they can play with at church. This year I got sticker books. "The Incredibles" for Kaleb and "Princess Dreams" for Leah. But I was still a little foggy and didn't understand what he found so exciting outside in the van.
"All that stuff in the van. Is it for us? Is it for church? Can we look at it?"
Slowly I realized that what I had left "hidden" in the van was now "discovered" by my little boy. Okay, I thought, this happens eventually, right? Didn't I find Christmas stuff when I was five? Mom's cover wasn't too convincing, that much I do remember. "Oh that?" she had said after I stumbled upon her secret hiding place in the closet (The closet? How sly is a closet? Okay, okay, the front seat of a van isn't very sly either...). "That stuff," she had said, "That stuff is stuff Santa told us to watch for him until Christmas. We're contract elves, working through this Santa Satellite program…" Or something like that. Either way I had seen right through it.
"That stuff," I said to Kaleb. "That stuff is stuff mommy and daddy got you for Easter." Immediately I realized what a bad cover that was. This kid has a memory like a recording device. Next year he'll remember that mommy and daddy and the Eastery Bunny had all gotten him presents. He'll expect it now, every year.
"What did you see?" I asked.
"An Incredibles book with stickers and pictures, and do I only get to use it at church?"
"That's all you saw?"
Okay, I think, this might not be too bad. There's still the little wolverine I had found at Target, along with a Polly Pocket for Leah. Small stuff, well hidden stuff, stuff that had to be in a different bag...
"On top of the Incredibles book was a wolverine toy. Can I just see it for a minute right now?"
I'm worse at this than my mom was. Maybe I can tell him the Easter Bunny lives in our van.
Now that I've put my kids to bed (their hands stained from coloring eggs), I'm wondering how to recover from the Easter slip-up. To squelch the endless questions I let Kaleb and Leah browse through their new sticker books. Since Kaleb didn't find the candy bag I'm thinking that maybe the Easter Bunny will only give candy, and mom and dad can give the cool stuff.
Which brings me back to Kaleb's fascination in distinguishing what's real and what's pretend. Why do parents fight so hard to pretend twice a year? This was the perfect opportunity to be honest with my son and own up to the imaginary. But he's only 3, I had thought. I don't want to blow the Easter fun this early.
I guess I should be grateful that Kaleb hasn't asked, “Is the Easter Bunny real or pretend?” I don't even want to explore the irony in Kaleb wanting the Easter Bunny to real and Jesus pretend.