Or for my younger audience in the 0-10 year range, "The Day I Found Out the Easter Bunny's 'Secret'", or "The Day You Found Out Why You're Probably Too Young To Be On the Internet"
It was the night before Easter, or Easter Eve as nobody calls it, and I was on a search. I was about 7 or 8 and I was looking for my Easter basket, respectively. I didn't know that the Easter Bunny was suppose to bring your Easter basket, I always thought I was suppose to leave it out for him the night before like a Christmas stocking. I can only guess I got this impression since I got the same Easter basket every year. So it's the night before Easter and I'm on a mission to find my Easter basket to put out by the fireplace before I go to bed. I look everywhere, and by everywhere I mean mostly just the garage because that seems like the most obvious place it would be stored. But it wasn't there. So the next place my child-mind thinks it could be is my parents' closet, because why not? So I'm looking through my parents' closet and I stumble upon it. Not the Easter basket, but it: our Easter present. An inflatable Shamu pool toy. Or at least the box for an inflatable Shamu pool toy. And I say "our" present because my siblings and I didn't get individual gifts in our baskets that year, Shamu was going to be a gift for all of us since we had just had a pool put into our backyard. And probably because my parents couldn't afford to get us all gifts because we had just had a pool put into our backyard.
Within a couple seconds of making this discovery, I realize I'm not suppose to have seen this, and I realize what it means. I start to become suspicious. Is this just what our parents are getting us, or is this what we're getting from the "Easter Bunny?" I start to put imaginary quotation marks around "Easter Bunny" in my head in a pessimistic and cynical way. I suddenly devised a plan. (I should probably stop here and make a note of me being an extremely dramatic child, as I almost always was pretending I was somebody else, mostly a character in a movie I had recently watched, so upon discovering the Easter present I immediately turned into a 7-year-old Columbo.)
So I devised a plan that consisted of sneaking out of bed and hiding in the living room, presumably all night, waiting to see with my own eyes who would deliver the present: my parents or the Easter Bunny. It was a simple enough plan, but I, of course, had to spruce it up with my dramatic flare. Right before bedtime I prepared my sisters' hand-me-down Cabbage Patch quilted baby bag for my expedition. It was equipped with a single travel flashlight and nothing else, because I had no idea what else you bring with you when you're trying to debunk a traditional holiday character. I hid the bag and crawled under my bed covers waiting for the perfect time to sneak downstairs. At around 9 or 10 I stealthily crawled out of bed and grabbed my Cabbage Patch bag and threw it on my shoulder. Before I left I grabbed one of my dolls, one whose hair was the closest to mine, and laid her head on my pillow with her facing the wall and pulled the blankets up to her chin. I figured if someone were to come in my room to check on me, this grapefruit-sized doll head would TOTALLY PASS FOR A SLEEPING CHILD.
Operation: Easter Bunny was now in full effect. My dad was still awake downstairs watching TV so I had to be careful making sure none of the stairs creaked as I made my way to the living room. As I made it off the last step, I crept over to the dining room table. Because it had a view of both the front door (the Easter Bunny's entrance) and the stairs (my parents' entrance), I stationed myself underneath the table for the remainder of the night, waiting. After five minutes of sitting under the table I realized how long and boring the wait was going to be, but I was determined. About a half hour later I heard the TV in the other room turn off and I knew my dad was going to bed. He walked in the kitchen to put some things away and I positioned myself where I wouldn't be seen. I watched him walk up the stairs, and then was caught off guard when I saw him reach the top of the stairs and not turn left, where his room was, but turn right to make his way down the hall where my other siblings and I were suppose to be sleeping. It took all of two seconds before I heard, "Emily!" coming from upstairs.
I remained quiet under the dining room table thinking how it was impossible that my dad didn't fall for the doll head decoy. I heard my name called again. I started to think of how much trouble I was going to be in, and again remained quiet to avoid punishment. Again I heard my name, but it didn't sound mad, it actually sounded worried and I started to feel bad. I crawled out from under the table and responded, "I'm down here." "What are you doing?!" I heard my dad say back in the dark. I start to climb back up the stairs, "I was waiting for the Easter Bunny." "Under the living room table?" "I wanted to see if he was real or not."
I don't remember exactly what happened after that, but I do remember getting back into bed and telling my dad about finding the Shamu and wanting to know if there was really an Easter Bunny. I don't remember what his answer was, but I know he didn't lie to me or try to make me still believe he was real. I also know I cried and I remember him saying something along the lines of, "Everyone figures it out, you just found it out the hard way." And then telling me I can't just go sneaking off and hiding without telling anyone. I agreed and he stayed with me until I fell asleep.
I know I was bummed because I remember crying but I don't know if it was because I found out the Easter Bunny wasn't real, or because I got caught hiding under the dining room table and trying to pass a doll off as myself and was utterly humiliated? We may never know.
A funny thing happened last year though-- I had the privilege of being the Easter Bunny at my work. I would normally never use the word "privilege" to describe something that has to do with kids, but because I didn't have to actually talk to them at all while I was in costume, that in itself was a privilege. But I realized something quite monumental as I was sitting on my throne of 12-packs of Coke posing for pictures: I am going to be apart of this kid's childhood. Maybe. I'm actually hoping they don't remember any part of it, because that's a huge responsibility to be forever burned into a person's psyche, but for those that do-- I was the Easter Bunny for them. For that 5 minutes I interacted with them, they believed me. Especially the kids that screamed bloody murder, I was most definitely real. I wonder how those kids are going to figure out it's not real. I wonder if any dining room tables and Cabbage Patch baby bags will be involved.