Saturday, April 5, 2008

No Easter Bunny at Our House

My son is only 4 years old and he already doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore.

I’m a strong supporter of the imagination. As a kid, my imagination helped me in times of trouble, times of boredom and times of pain, and it heightened my times of joy. My imagination continues to assist me in life today. And I want the same for my son.

So when the boy told me that the Easter Bunny he saw at the shopping mall last weekend was really a person in a suit, I worried. I worried that he wouldn’t continue to develop his imagination and he’d have a harder life as a result. Maybe I’m being a bit extreme here, but I’m a parent, so I worry about everything and anything related to my son’s well being.

I was left with two choices. I could either tell my son that the Easter Bunny is real whether he likes it or not, and risk him never believing me again, or I could show him the Easter Bunny in person -- an Easter Bunny that doesn’t have a zipper on his back.

Did you know that bunnies aren’t good pets? According to the House Rabbit Society (a national nonprofit humane society for rabbits), kids and bunnies don’t mix. I spoke with someone at the Society who said that the high energy, rough behavior and noise level of even the gentlest kid are too stressful to a sensitive rabbit.

Another bunny expert said that the majority of rabbits purchased as Easter pets won’t even live to see their first birthday due to the stress the animal endures as a child’s pet. Bunnies don’t like to be picked up or carried, and they need lots of gentle maintenance -- or else.

My son has more energy than the tail of an excited puppy dog. He’s loud, and when he’s around any animal, he always wants to pick it up. As for the maintenance, I’m not really up for more chores around the house, and I don’t think my wife is either.

But we’re talking about my son’s imagination. So I decided to buy a bunny. I’d just take it back after the holiday, after my son became a believer again.

Now, since I’m a worrier, I worried about a couple things from the get go. I worried about my son’s energy around the bunny, which I figured I’d have to address before he saw the animal. And I worried about my son eating the bunny droppings. (Last year my wife and I placed chocolate-covered raisins disguised as Easter Bunny droppings in a path leading to the boy’s Easter basket, and he ate his way to his basket, hungry for more. I knew we couldn’t have that this year. So I’d also have to address that before the boy saw the bunny.)

I was putting a lot on my plate of things to do for this Easter, but I knew it’d be worth it.

I got the ball rolling on Monday. I told my son that the “real” Easter Bunny would visit him on Easter Sunday. He replied, “The man in the suit is coming to see me again?”

“No, no,” I said. “The ‘real’ Easter Bunny is coming.”

My son seemed very excited, but he also seemed a little skeptical. Now how does a 4-year-old become skeptical?

Well, I’d show him something that would knock his socks off.

While I was at the rabbit ranch picking up our “Easter Bunny,” my wife went online and found some pictures of real bunnies to show our son. When I called my wife to tell her I had the bunny in my possession, she said she’d shown the boy pictures of a real white “Easter Bunny.”

“Was he excited?” I asked. “No zipper on this bunny. What’d he say? Is he a believer again?”

I couldn’t wait for my son to see our Easter Bunny with its snow-white fur and fluffy cottontail. (I’d like to thank the Academy for this award for best revival of his kid’s imagination.)

And then my wife told me that my son didn’t believe that the bunny in the picture -- a real bunny just like the one I had in my car -- could possibly carry Easter baskets. “He has no hands,” my son said. “He’s not even as big as the basket.”

I didn’t speak. I hung up the phone. And then I took the bunny back to the rabbit ranch. If my son wants to be so smart, then he can lack imagination and suffer through life.

Well, he can suffer up until next Easter. I think I’ll get a zipperless Easter Bunny suit to wear. That should do the trick.

-March 2008

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