Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thank you, Easter bunny!

Sadly, I could only find one photo (above). The caption on the back
has my son's name and the Easter bunny, you know, just in case
you didn't recognize him.
Easter is upon us, which means the resurrection of Christ, whose rebirth is symbolized by all things spring – Easter lilies, abundant eggs to decorate with beautiful colors and designs, little baby chicks, and, oh, yeah, big-a** rabbits.

A friend brought the question to my attention – what IS our fascination with giant rabbits? And did the movie Harvey starring James Stewart and his invisible 6’3 ½” rabbit best friend play a part in it?

I understand that bunnies represent the fertility of spring, but do they have to be so large? And do we have to dress up our precious children and put them in their giant laps and expect them to smile? What kind of torment is that? It’s no coincidence that the Easter bunny as we know him was created in 1958 and child psychology a year later.

When my daughter was younger, she accepted that Santa came down the chimney and spied on her throughout the year, seeing her when she’s sleeping. She was OK with the tooth fairy fluttering about her room and was even fond of setting leprechaun traps, but a rabbit that resembles a grown man hopping down the bunny trail? Now, that was too much.

“How does he get in? Does he have a key to the house?” she asked, clearly alarmed.

I thought that perhaps a visit to see the Easter bunny might alleviate her fears, though I knew from experience I must tread lightly. When my oldest was young, I took her to have her photo made with the Easter bunny at the mall. I thought it went well. She sat on his lap and flashed a big, cute smile, not the least bit afraid. I even had a key chain made from the picture to commemorate the moment.

It was on the way home that things turned sour.

“Mommy, there’s a man inside the Easter bunny,” she said.

“No, sweetie, of course there’s not.”

“Yes, there is. I see his face inside of the bunny’s mouth,” she responded.

It was then I noticed she was inspecting the photo inside our new key chain.

“What? Let me see that,” I said.

I studied it and realized, yes, Virginia, there is a man inside the Easter bunny. In fact, his creepy face was peering right through the giant bunny’s smile, just as my daughter had said.

With this in mind, I decided the best way to relieve my younger daughter’s fears was to dress as a non-threatening bunny myself at our church’s egg hunt. Well, that, and I was the only person who could fit in the costume. At least that was what I was told. It was only later that I learned I was the only fool who would put on a bunny suit that had been around since the early 70s, especially when the bank that loaned it to us left these instructions: Fragile. Do not dry clean.

Though it felt dirty, I donned the suit, knowing dozens of kids would be disappointed if the bunny didn't show up, including my own. As I stepped around the corner out into the open, guided by my so-called girlfriend who had talked me into it, the reaction from the crowd was nothing short of a Godzilla movie. Kids were running and screaming; parents were snapping photos and forcing the children they could catch into my arms. I was doing my best to appear friendly and hold on to them as they attempted to wriggle free, all the while worrying about what communicable bunny diseases I might be contracting from the germs inside the suit.

Despite the discomfort, it was worth it. Moms were able to snap the obligatory kids-so-scared-it’s-cute photos, while my daughter totally overcame her fear. In fact, she came right up and held my hand. I was so proud of her for being so brave. So proud, in fact, I knelt down and hugged her, and as she squeezed my neck, I heard her say, “I know that’s you, Mommy.”

And from that day on, she never worried about a giant bunny having keys to our house again.

Thank you, Easter bunny, for the memories.