This past Saturday though our real - shall we say "seasoned" parenting - faults came exposed. To our defense, we made it to the annual egg hunt our community hosts (which seems to grow slightly bigger, and more extravagant each round) to let the boys run around the park, score a snow cone or two, visit friends and hunt for eggs, but felt the life sucked out of us almost instantly upon arrival. First off we missed the age category hunt for Hayes (which again would have also never happened with Arlo) but figured we'd get in line early for the next two and staked claim on the front lines behind a flimsy yellow tape divider for the next 30 minutes to allow Rex and Leon a fair go at it the goods before heading home. So we stood in there in an ocean of overly eager parents pushing and prodding their kid towards the outer rim of the field to ensure they had a fair change at that big green field of plastic egged promises filled with off brand candy tarts and half melted chocolate bars.
By way of meaningful distraction, I tried my darnedest to teach Hayes the art of the hunt but he kept sticking what few gems he snagged into other kid's baskets enough for me to ultimately give up and praise him for being the cutest candy socialist this side of town instead. And then we waited there on the sidelines as the adults in charge reminded the crowd what seemed to me to be 10 times or more how "NOT" to follow the kids into the grass during the hunt to allow for a more "enjoyable" experience on both ends. A reminder I thought to be rather ridiculous after about the 5th time it called to us until I saw how absurd things got as soon as the whistle shot off and all hell broke loose with a flock of slick haired pinafored gals and bow tied little boys shoving elbows alongside their parents as they made their way around the field scooping eggs and taking names. At one point I was among one of the last handful of parents still standing as directed, watching our poor kids push through the maze of scarcely scattered eggs at the threat of 60 over zealous Easter babes powered by adults. And man was it ugly. As I stood watching it all unfold in a matter of a few minutes I couldn't help but feel a dramatic shift in my day's mood. Dramatic in that I always tend to think in terms of dwindling society and can't help but entertain dim visions of an approaching wasteland of moral rejects possibly inheriting the earth. But I mean that's just my nature. Somehow deciding that the egg hunt, turned hunger games, was some kind of foreshadowing into our kid's future growing up alongside a generation of children who's parents would rather stomp competition out of the way than risk them suffering through the depths of real defeat in coming up short handed in the holiday treasure department.
When all was said and done my boys didn't walk away with many eggs. Not at all actually but they didn't seem to mind much. And the baby didn't sit with the big white bunny because the line snaked around the corner and the sun was sharp and our patience worn thin.
So needless to say, Hayes won't have this year's Easter bunny photo like each of his brothers have as beaming traditional beacons from years past. In fact he doesn't yet (and gosh maybe never will?) have a book all his own to document such occasions but what he did get, was a good grip on his first 50/50 flavored popsicle, as well as a tiny rubber bunny from one of his brother's spare loot. And while part of me can't help but feel a little guilty about the changes and eliminations that come with the addition of each kid, I also know that while they do exist on a slimmer scale, some things never change. So even it's a hand me down I've seen three times on three different kids before him, I can't wait to see my forth boy in that blue gingham shirt come bright and early this next Easter morning. When the only crowd we face are his adoring cousins and the only competition in the day comes attached to who can make the most desirable crepe creation.
Until then, we've come to accept cheap popsicles as an instant cure all.
And hey, you know, there's always next year. . .