What happens when you are caught in flagrante delicto with the Easter Bunny? What happens when your youngest child flings open the door to the storage closet and discovers you crouched amidst a veritable orgy of Easter offerings, spread out and naked in all their sugary glory – a tableau of secrets and cavities, searingly pastel under the bare basement light bulb?
Well, first you scream. You scream the kind of scream normally reserved for robbers in face masks or flashers in trench coats. Or rats. You might scream like this if you saw a rat. And that youngest child would scream too – or at least you think she’s screaming because her mouth is in the shape of an O – but you can’t actually hear her because your robber/flasher/rat scream is so, so loud.
After she slams the door in horror you collapse, your ass mercifully landing on a soft bed of hot pink Made-In-China Easter basket grass and you weep with frustration. Your tears are hot and angry because you have spent the last fourteen years of your life guarding the magic, protecting the shimmer, stoking the flame. All to have it ruined by a little white rat who NEVER LISTENS WHEN YOU TELL HER TO STAY IN BED. You want to smash and break every colored plastic egg the way your heart is broken, because she’s only seven. And seven is so, so little.
You only have one choice. One hail mary pass. The TRUTH. Yes, you will tell her the TRUTH. And when you go upstairs and find her curled up in a frightened little knot with her bedspread pulled up to her eyeballs and her two braids sticking straight up on the pillow, the TRUTH comes tumbling out. And you might sound slightly more emphatic and unhinged than what’s below, but this is essentially what you say, and it feels so good to say it because the TRUTH always saves the day.
You are the kid and I am the grown up and when I tell you to stay in bed, I have a very good reason! I’m supposed to be the keeper of the magic. There’s a line between the kids and the magical creatures and the grown-ups are supposed to keep you on the other side of the line – whatever the cost. You disobeyed me and now I have to tell you something that you’re not supposed to know. The Easter Bunny isn’t as powerful as Santa. He’s a spring creature, he’s a little fragile, he’s white, he has little pink paws and when it snows in the spring, he can’t handle the deliveries. He just can’t do it. When that happens he contacts us – I can’t tell you how because you shouldn’t know ANY of this – and he drops the stuff off early and I was just trying to figure out what was what so I could put it out for him. He’d be angry at me and at you if he knew what happened and you better hope he doesn’t come back here and pluck everything tonight. NOW STAY IN BED!!!
And then you go down stairs and pour yourself a glass of wine and you cry a little more with your hand on your heart, because when you leaned down to kiss her, she whispered: OK, Mommy.