“Mom, is the Easter Bunny, like, a person?”
My five-year-old has these giant, blue eyes filled with innocence and the longest eyelashes you’ve ever seen. Just hearing his tiny preschooler voice ask this question breaks my heart a bit…No! Not yet! I thought I had more time! Maybe I can stall one more year?…Tread lightly, Mama.
“What do you mean, Buddy?”
“Not a person dressed up like the Easter Bunny but, like, the real Easter Bunny who comes to our house. Is he a real bunny or big like a big person?”
Oh, thank goodness. I could breathe. This was a curiosity question, not a doubting one.
My seven-year-old still believes she sees fairies in our yard from time to time. If suddenly my five-year-old had surpassed this thinking before her, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
I speak carefully. “Well, I don’t know for sure. I’ve never actually seen him. Cause if you’re awake, he doesn’t come, right? What do you think?”
“I don’t know. You can look it up on your phone.” He says, shrugging like it was a question.
I don’t like to lie to my kids. I like them to ask good questions and think about things in a their own way. But I’m also a big fan of letting them hold onto their innocence as long as possible. I swear, there’s a part of their brains that wants them to believe in magic (7 year old, seeing fairies on her own, case in point). Heck, I still want to believe in magic. But, I’m pretty sure that kids don’t ask questions they’re not ready to hear the answers to so, when it comes to topics like the Easter Bunny, I try my best to answer their questions directly, while trying not to give extra details away.
“That’s a good idea,” I say as I look around the shelves and countertops for wherever it was I left my phone. “I know there’s lots of lore about the Easter bunny. Like some people think he hides the eggs like at our house and other people say he actually lays the egg…So actually, maybe the Easter bunny is a girl?”
I have my phone at this point. Slowly, I type in “History of the Easter Bunny,” while praying to Dr.Google, Please don’t fail me now. My son can’t read but he’s looking over my shoulder. What if some weird image pops up? Or a headline about the non-existence of Easter Bunnies that somehow seeps into his brain and plants a seed of doubt?
The first article that comes up is a fluff piece from Time.com. (Read it Here)
I scroll through, reading chosen facts out loud to him as if I’m skimming my zoology textbook. “It says Easter bunnies are from Germany,” “They do lay eggs,” Etc.
And then I come to the last line of the article: “Some identify the holiday with other types of animals like foxes or cuckoo birds.”
And, being the eager scientist myself, I can’t help but exclaim aloud, “There’s also an Easter fox! And an easter cuckoo!”
Five year old, equally as excited: “An Easter Fox??? Mama! An Easter Fox?!”
A quick and exciting google search happens now for “Easter Fox” and a promising looking article comes up. (read it here)
The article is mostly about how most people are mistaken about where the Easter Bunny myth first came from. Interesting, but not what we were looking for. Scrolling down gets us to the part about the Easter Fox though.
The person from the article says, that in his own research, he learned that until the mid-20th Century, it was mainly the Easter Fox who was responsible for the eggs in the Easter tradition. Kids would prepare a cozy nest of hay or moss for the Easter Fox to come lay his eggs in. And they would be sure to put away their own pets for the night so they wouldn’t bother the Fox.
Now, I have no idea how “scholarly” these sources are. But, obviously, accuracy and truth weren’t really the point of my google searches about the Easter Bunny in the first place. And this find was like an Easter miracle. I went from fearing that the magic was over to finding us more to believe in.
So, with my heart filled with happiness, and 5-year-olds eyes filled with wonder, we ran with it, together, talking excitedly back and forth.
There was first an Easter Fox! And he must have taught the Easter Bunny all he knew! Does the Easter fox help deliver things on Easter still? And the Easter cuckoo too? They must. They must help because there are so many more kids now than there used to be. Will the Easter Fox will come to our house this year? I hope he does. It would be cool. But how would we know if it was really the Easter Fox and not the Easter Bunny? Do you think Nana knows about the Easter Fox?
These were the questions I loved discussing. It was new to me too, so it didn’t matter that I didn’t have all the answers yet. See, kids come up with all sorts of facts to fill in the blanks when our knowledge comes up lacking. It’s amazing. To watch their little minds work and come up with things that an adult would never consider…it’s one of the greatest things about being a parent. So it didn’t matter that it was all a story to me and real conjecture to him. We were both imagining, wondering out loud, and exploring this new-found thing. That moment, for both of us I think, was magic.
And the magic continued all week. Because 5-year-old excitedly told everyone we came across about that Easter Fox. And, lucky for my kids, the Easter Fox did come to our house this year. (He was sneaky too. Hubby and I had decided we were not doing Easter grass this year. Too messy, 6 month old will get it and eat it. But that darn fox snuck down to our basement and got the grass out of the storage bin anyway.)
I can’t tell you how many questioning looks I’ve gotten from people as my son tells them about the Easter Fox. But I can tell you that the Osterfuchs is my new favorite Easter tradition.