Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where Were These Kinds of Easter-Egg Hunts When I was a Kid?

I failed to go into much detail in my opening post about my kids. However, this would not seem to be a big deal given that, thus far, no one has read it. Guess all that proof reading was for naught. Still, this blog will hopefully prove constructive. If nothing else, it will give me the forum to express my thoughts, fears, feelings, hopes, and ambitions regarding life and fatherhood. At the very least, maybe it will keep me from going insane from the frustration, confusion, and torturous lack of sleep that inevitably accompanies being a parent.

Without question, being a dad is the greatest blessing in my life, along with my marriage. But it's also alot like that scene in The Matrix, when the computer agents have captured Morphious and are trying to hijack his mind. As a father of three small kids, you can feel your brain slowly turning to mush. It's kind of like being interrogated as a prisoner of war. You have no freedom. You aren't allowed to sleep. And you're constantly being yelled at in languages you don't understand. Your kids are breaking you. They're not even aware that they've defeated you in psychological warfare, but they have. One day you're having intelligent conversations, know every player on your favorite sports team, are up on all the current events, and wouldn't entertain a second thought about the benefits of anger management therapy. The next you find yourself singing Barney the Dinosaur's "I Love You, You Love Me" song all alone. You continue watching the last fifteen minutes of "Dragon Tales", failing to notice that the kids have left the room, because you want to see how the story turns out. You're lucky if you can watch one full game played by your favorite team, much less know names and stats. And minor irritations that use to bounce right off of you now manage to launch you into fits of anger and profanity. It's a rapid intellectual digression.

But back to more specifics on my kids. My daughter, Emerson, is my oldest. She'll be six in a couple of weeks. She has my heart wrapped around her little finger. She is definitely my "Sweetie-Petitie." When you become the father of a little girl, you use terms like Sweetie-Petitie with surprisingly little embarassment. You love her so much that you don't think about how you look wearing a silly hat at an imaginary tea party nor how you sound calling her cute nicknames and singing to her over the phone when you're out of town.

I also have two sons. William (a.k.a. Little Bubba) is 3 1/2. Carson (a.k.a. Little Chico) is just over 1 1/2. They're my buddies to be sure. I love 'em both to death.

Today is the day before Easter 2009. Holidays are certainly different with small children. Mostly, they're different in a good way. Santa comes alive at Christmas again. Halloween becomes a blast once more. (As a grown man, I've found it to be just plain awkward going to someone's door dressed as Batman and begging for candy when you don't have a small child with you.) And Easter? Well, with the arrival of tiny Howards comes the return of the Easter Bunny, Easter-egg hunts, dying Easter eggs, and candy--lots of candy.

This year, my mother-in-law asked if she could take my wife and daughter to Savannah, GA for a "girls' weekend." I said it was fine with me if it was fine with my wife, Meredith. Emerson wrote a note to the Easter Bunny, letting him know she'd be in Savannah. Then she gave me strict instructions regarding where to leave it Saturday night. Meanwhile, my boys and I are having a "guys, Easter weekend" here at home.

This morning I took William and Carson to an Easter-egg hunt at the church. It's about the fourth or fifth Easter-egg hunt I've been to since Emerson was born. I use the term "hunt" losely. Most of the time, they're more like Easter-egg pickups. We just stand around a big field with hundreds of Easter-eggs thrown into the middle, just lying there, waiting to be claimed. Finally, someone yells "go!" Then all hell breaks lose! Kids and parents rush into the field, blazing a path of fire as they make their way to claim gobs of candy. It's like a fight-to-the-death cage match between midget wrestlers--an ocean of tiny limbs, little body checks, and tear-producing collisions. All the while, shouts of "mine!" and the sound of breaking plastic eggs resonate from every section of the crowd.

But the kids are not the most dangerous participants. No, that honor goes to the moms of the toddlers! Carson, as I mentioned, is only a year and a half. He doesn't grasp Easter nor the idea of an Easter-egg hunt. Like most toddlers, he just imitates or stares as mom or dad picks up a few eggs and sets them in his basket. It's the mothers of the toddlers who are on a mission. They're the ones who are going to make sure that their little darling get's his or her freak'n eggs!

I remember Meredith at Emerson's first Easter-egg hunt. It was the first time we had participated in such an event as parents. From the word go, Meredith became like a possessed woman. She was like a hockey player in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals; bumping moms, diving for eggs. A couple of times I could swear I even heard her say to another toddler, "This is MY house!!" I just held the video camera and stayed out of the way. All in all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

My point about Easter-egg hunts is this: Where were these kinds of Easter-egg hunts when I was a kid? When I was little, our sadistic parents and church leaders took great pleasure in actually hiding the eggs. We'd emerge from wooded areas scarred by thorns and branches, all for the mere satisfaction of finding one egg. They'd let us explore some of the most god-awful places as we sweated and strained, often in vain, to find one more item to place in our basket. Then, once the egg-hunt was over, they'd count the eggs. That's right; not only would I often have to deal with the disappointment of finding only one or two measely eggs despite crawling in places only snakes had previously traversed, but I had to endure the humiliation of watching as my pathetic booty was compared to the fat kid who could smell sugar and thus beat the hell out of everyone to collect more than half the eggs. To throw extra salt in the wound, the Sunday School leader would then give the fat kid a chocolate bunny on top of all of his eggs as a prize for winning. Fatso got most of the eggs, the chocolate bunny, and a pat on the back from the church leaders who'd taken such pleasure in watching us scramble, dig, and bleed in vain. What I would have given for just a big field, a bunch of visible eggs, and an "On your mark. Get set. Go!" setting me lose to grab all I could.

Anyway, I will depart for now. William is dying for me to go outside and play. Happy Easter.

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