"I heard some kids say that the Easter Bunny brought them ipods and itouches," my daughter mumbles sullenly during her after school snack. I am momentarily stunned. I have never heard her say "ipod."
Shaking this off, I gently ask her if it's possible she's heard correctly, knowing in my heart that what she's saying is true. She's only six. She hasn't learned yet how to make stuff up that wild. Inwardly, I groan and groan again. Who are these parents, I want to ask her. But then I realize that I can't. Because this is about the Easter Bunny. Bringing parents into the equation is a touchy business requiring walking the line of preserving her fantasies while asking her to understand that different parents believe their kids are entitled to different things.
"I feel left out," my daughter says, which is a good thing, because we've talked about the importance of sharing feelings of any kind instead of whining. And who wouldn't? Who wouldn't think it strange that a supposedly democratically egg-distributing Bunny would leave such outlandish gifts for a religious holiday about Christ's Resurrection? This is the part where I mention that we are not Christian. That we are a Hindu and Jain family, second and third generation Indian Americans who are trying our best to raise biculturally-aware children. Our compromise in observing the cultural traditions stemming from Christian holidays is to do the bare minimum. The Easter Bunny comes to honor spring; he or she hides eggs with coins and candy in them. He or she brings a couple of small hollow chocolate bunnies, just for kicks. Then, he or she scampers off, unseen.
The thing of it is that my daughter doesn't even know what an ipod or itouch are-- nor would she be able to use them. But every day at public school is another day of resisting indoctrination within the word of "i-consumerism," where gifts are silver and shiny and all powerful. A world in which a few crunchy chocolate eggs are great, but a device is a symbol of a being truly gifted. I consider my responses to my daughter to be mostly failures. I tell her that the parents might have made arrangements with the Easter Bunny because of their own "traditions." She wonders immediately how these parents got in touch with the Easter Bunny, and the subtext here is fairness. I realize that there is nothing I can do with integrity to degrade the actions of either these parents of the Bunny. But I remind her that we spent Spring Break and Easter with family and friends, and that these moments are gifts, especially to those of us who do not live too close to our relatives.
I hope in my stammering and efforts at articulation she got the message: Bunnies can do no wrong, all families are different, simple is best. I just have to that hope next year some of these other kids either stop believing or that their parents, for the sake of the rest of us, simply tell them that the blingier gifts came from themselves.
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