Thursday, April 12, 2012: I knew the time would come; it just caught me a little off-guard when Ava wanted to talk to me after school. My soon-to-be 9-year-old sat me down and said, “Mom, I want to ask you a couple of questions, and I want you to be honest with me, ok? Tell me the truth.” Uh oh, I knew I was cornered. “Is the Easter Bunny real?”
Was it the fact that she and all of her friends brought chocolate Easter eggs to school for lunch/snack that started the conversation amongst them all? Maybe Ava’s eyes opened really wide when somebody mockingly said, “You don’t still believe in the Easter Bunny, do you?!” Whatever the prompt, it was time to fess up.
“Honey,” I started, “I’m the Easter Bunny who leaves you baskets.” After a bit of a deflated look and a few more follow-up questions, she carefully and quietly asked, “Are you Santa Claus, too?” Ouch. I tried to soften the blow with the fact that there really was a Saint Nicholas many years ago, and he gave gifts to children. Or that the magical feeling of Santa and his reindeer at Christmastime wasn’t something that had to be ignored just because there really isn’t a man who flies through the air in a sleigh. Or that I even received presents from Santa when I was in college (“Did you still believe then, Mom?” “No, honey, I knew the truth by then, but I still loved the magic.”)!
I remember being somewhere between the 3rd and 4th grade when I learned the truth, and I do recall that conversations with friends initiated the suspicion. I don’t remember how my mom handled it, nor do I recall being terribly disappointed…I was probably just hoping that it didn’t mean the end of Easter baskets and Santa presents (it didn’t).
“Can I tell anybody, Mom?” asked Ava. “Absolutely not,” I replied. My older daughter still hasn’t asked me yet, although she’s hinted that she knows the truth. I explained that everybody should learn this in their own way when it’s time, and that children shouldn’t share this news with their friends. And then I promptly called her best friend’s mom to tell her about our conversation.
I’m sure many more questions will follow once she starts to think about everything. I mean, she hasn’t even touched on the Tooth Fairy yet…