Grab a nice, hot cup of tea, a latte or whatever your favourite beverage may be and get comfortable—I am going to tell you a story that will, without a doubt, reassure you that you are not the worst parent in the world.
This afternoon, Camille (my nine year old) and I were watching tv together. We’d been out all day at a cool, historic property, marching around an Easter Trail. Great outdoor, parent-children bonding time.
Camille had been saying things like, ‘I know when I am a parent, I will ask the Easter Bunny to give my children a present along with their chocolate eggs,’ and ‘Do you think that the Easter Bunny will bring me a giant cream filled egg this year? I just love cream filled eggs’.
Here’s where my misunderstanding began.
These hints continued into the later afternoon as we sat watching a cooking show together. So, as we were sitting there on the couch, I looked at Camille, and maybe it was because I was tired from our day’s adventures, or maybe it was because I was temporarily insane, but I said to her, ‘Okay now, Camille—we all know that you know that the Easter Bunny is not real.’
Cover wide-open mouth with left hand. Mumble expletives, if desired.
Camille looked at me for a few, very long seconds, then she blinked and blinked again, then the tears came streaming down her cheeks.
Oh shit. Oh my God—what have I done?
‘Oh no, Camille—you thought the Easter Bunny was real??? Oh no. I am so sorry. I truly thought you were kidding around with the hints about gifts and cream eggs...’ I held her hands and stared into her soft, brown eyes brimming with tears. The idea that I had put an end to her childhood innocence swept across me like a cold, sharp wind; I shuddered.
After a while she sniffed and wiped away some tears. ‘Camille, I am truly so very sorry. I thought you knew,’ I managed. ‘It’s okay, Mommy... Now I can help you with hiding the Easter eggs for the twins. That will be fun,’ she said. I just stared at her, then she reassured me, ‘Mommy—really, it’s alright.’
I sincerely did not know what to say, how to repair the heartbreak I had caused—I can be so dense in that way, in damage control. So I just kissed her head and stroked her hair and snuggled her up closer as we watched the rest of our cooking show in silence.
After a few quiet moments, Camille looked up at me and was wiggling her most recently loose tooth. Then she said earnestly, ‘You know, this is all okay because maybe I will lose this tooth and the tooth fairy will come tonight, then I'll never miss the Easter Bunny.’