Sunday, March 23, 2008

To Easter bunny or not to Easter bunny

Our Easter's have usually been low-key. Trillian's mom has always sent some lovely basket of treats to us; especially when we lived away from them, she has felt the need to send some tangible evidence of her holiday wishes for us. We've never minded--one less thing for us to worry about. In fact, we have generally done nothing to mark the holiday than give Scooter the basket. Last year, we did color eggs, but the highlight of that day was a trip to the Ontario Science Centre.

This year, we will be specifically celebrating Easter. Trillian's parents will hide the Easter eggs that Scooter dyed with them and we will have an official Easter lunch. There will be a pretty full basket. I packed up some gluten-free candy we'd found, plus a toy I bought a while that just happens to come in an egg-shaped container, and one of Scooter's old baskets. I handed these over to Trillian's mother who will be adding her traditional gifts (bunny and book), plus more candy.

I haven't quite figured out how I feel about this more overt celebration and how I want all of this presented to Scooter. It's a little late to define things for this year, but I've realized that we will need to think about this for next year. Personally, ever since the Easter story was first explained to me (by classmates when I was 12), I have felt odd about marking it in any way, as this is the part of the Christ story--well this and the virgin birth bit--that I cannot believe at all. On the other hand, I cannot deny the fun of hunting for eggs and the cuteness of bunnies, not to mention family tradition.

I know that at some point I will present these last two elements of the holiday with their representation of fertility and the start of Spring. But that's a little further off, once Scooter is old enough to learn about the history of different holidays and syncretism.

This year, talk is of the Easter bunny.

As recently as yesterday, I thought that this was already a moot point. When I was trying to get Scooter to explain the note from school at the end of the daily report--"Be sure to bring your Easter bunnies on Monday"--his emphatic response was, "There is no Easter bunny." I suspect he's supposed to bring a stuffed rabbit, but am unsure and have no idea why.

(Side note: I was considering myself so lucky when I read Metro Mama's post about sending Easter stuff to school--and now this. I worry about the issue of religion in public schools and so am uneasy that I don't know what the purpose behind this is. Trillian thinks we should send a note asking what they'll be doing for Passover. My concern with that is that they then assume we're Jewish, and I have a complex about this since I have a Jewish last name and went through that very thing my whole childhood. I don't want to get too defensive about it, but I also feel incredibly strongly about the manner in which my son is introduced to religious ideas. Anyway, this will be a whole 'nother post.)

Secretly (really, Trillian and I didn't confirm or deny his assertion), we were happy he felt this way. But then when he was coloring eggs with his grandmother and great-grandmother, apparently the topic came up again. At first, Scooter vehemently denied the Easter bunny's existence. But when my mother-in-law said that maybe the Easter bunny would hide eggs for him, he thought about it for awhile. Where he seems to be now is of the belief that there is not an Easter bunny in Springfield, but there is one in Capital City. The Easter bunny will ring Grandma and Grandpa's doorbell and they'll give him the eggs that Scooter decorated. Then the Easter bunny will hide them for Scooter.

I'm torn in how I feel about this. On the one hand, having Scooter believe that the Easter bunny does not exist is the end result I desire, so if that's what he already believes, mission accomplished. On the other, I do want him to work through ideas, test out theories, come to conclusions on his own steam, not simply accept what he is told. This particular instance is complicated by the fact that I don't know how he came to his first conclusion--the Easter bunny is actually not something we've discussed one way or the other. And while I was not present for the conversation with his grandmother (irony alert: Trillian and I were meeting up with some other nonreligious parents and discussing raising freethinking children), I know that he felt the need to revise his theory because she responded to his assertion against the Easter bunny's existence with the suggestion that maybe he'd come to their house.

Sigh. I know that this is just a taste of what's to come. Here's hoping I can find the energy and clarity to follow through on my intentions.


Lisa b said...

did my comment get eaten?

I try to just ignore it. Elementary school scares me.

Laural Dawn said...

I think as far as the school thing goes, bringing Easter Bunnies in is just something to occupy time. I find at our daycare stuff like Easter is treated the same way as crazy hair day, pyjama party day, etc. It's something to do. Not to mention the craft opportunities with cotton balls!!!
My mom always tells me the story about when I was 4 and our school choir was singing at a seniors residence. One of the people who worked there came over to me with a microphone and asked what I thought the Easter Bunny would bring me that year. I looked at her completely seriously and said "the Easter Bunny isn't real. Neither is Santa."
Honestly, my parents had never really told me that - they just had never told me otherwise. There were a lot of angry parents!
on the other hand, my son seems to desperately want to believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny so I let him. Tough call.

Aliki2006 said...

We had to bring in plastic eggs with stickers to T.'s preschool, and I didn't mind that too much. To give T.'s school credit, they don't go over the top with the holidays.

We just used our kids as guides. They both want so desperately to believe in the magic of the EB and we just went with it, because it seemed right.

Mouse said...

I think Scooter ended up missing the Easter bunny-related activity when he was in OT. The new material sent home yesterday seems to indicate that the theme is rabbits and eggs and Spring this week, so it seems to be skirting the issues I worry about most.

The biggest disappointment for me in all of this Easter bunny stuff was that he got talked back into believing. I honestly don't think my in-laws could help themselves. I wanted to follow Scooter's lead on all of this, not actively tell him things (like "I heard a bump over this way last night, let's go see if it was the Easter bunny") to encourage him to believe, or disbelieve for that matter. But I wanted the ideas to come from him.