I was trying to get sweet Weasel (age 3) psyched up for the Easter Bunny a few weeks ago, but she was initially more interested in the logistics of a magical Bunny than the candy.
“Has anyone taken a picture of him? Can I see it?”
“No. He’s pretty speedy. He doesn’t want to be seen.”
“…Um, because it would make him less magical?”
The night before Easter she glanced out windows, looked toward the door.
“I really just want to see that little guy.”
And then Easter came, and the candy came. And the oddness of a skittish candy-wielding bunny receded into the background. I breathed a sigh of relief because I’m a little uneasy about the lying-to-my-kids thing. Of course, I also don’t want my kid to be THAT kid, the one who reads the New Yorker, the one who is skilled at reciting his parents’ politics (and, okay, yes, the bastard who told me about Santa when I was four). But still. I am Weasel’s conduit for the adult world, her translator for all things Grown Up. I would like for her to trust me. A line must be tread carefully between the fantastical and the real. I want magic to be created without it one day leaving a little dark void where it once existed.
Then today, Weasel and I happened to be in a church (long story). And she wanted to know about Jesus and Mary. About Jesus’ father(s). About why Jesus was on a cross. I treaded carefully. I mentioned God.
“Like a fairy Godmother?”
I don’t mean to equate the Easter Bunny with God–I just want to exemplify how the Easter Bunny is cheap and quick magic, how it glosses over the complexities of belief, lends faith and yanks it away. There is little room for a discussion down the road of literal versus figurative belief, of spiritual meaning. It is a simple card trick in a circus filled with whirling acrobats. It endangers understanding of the complexity of belief down the line.
I know I’m over-thinking this. The thing is, maybe part of me wants to see a picture of that little guy, too–a better, more important picture than the candy and the basket.
Check out this piece on the Easter Bunny, development, and belief at The Atlantic.