My son celebrated his first Easter at his Great Aunt Timmy’s house. He was just under two at the time, just barely walking. Given his age, we hadn’t really done anything to mark the day. We hadn’t even talked to him about Easter. We had just moved to California, and were still settling in. We hadn’t even unpacked all of our boxes, let alone found a church.
Timmy, however, was two steps ahead of us. When we got to her house, she had an Easter egg hunt already set up. She’d filled plastic eggs with candies and goldfish, along with matchbox trucks (the Dude’s favorite thing on the planet). At first, the Dude was confused about what he was supposed to do. When she lead him to the first egg, he tried to put it in his mouth, as children will do. When she opened it for him and he saw that there were M&M’s inside, that was all the explanation he required. He was on an Easter egg search and destroy mission.
The next year, when Easter rolled around again, we knew that we couldn’t slack off this time. The Dude’s expectations were already set. Once he went to bed, my husband and I hid the eggs, along with a big basket with some candy and gifts from my mother, who also knows how to do up Easter. We had the camera ready, and were looking forward to taking him downstairs and watching him tear around the house looking for hidden goodies.
Usually, the Dude would wake us up by running into our room and jumping into bed with us. Easter morning, however, we woke up to a rustling sound outside of our bedroom doorway. I called out to the Dude, who then toddled in, face completely covered with chocolate, toting a half-unwrapped Easter book from the basket my mother had put together.
He’d found every single egg, plus the basket, and hauled the whole shebang upstairs. At that point, I knew we’d crossed some sort of Rubicon. He wasn’t going to wait for us. Not anymore. If he knew there was something out there that he wanted and could get his hands on it, he would.
There was a moment of letdown. A knee-jerk reaction to say “Dude, you shouldn’t have done that.” Luckily, both my husband and I held back. Did we really want to tell him not to explore the world? We never told him not to find the eggs. We didn’t tell him to wait for us. He hadn’t disobeyed, or broken any rules. He’d been self sufficient. So we did the only thing we could.
“Come show us.”
I knew by his sugary yellow lips that the Peeps were toast. He held a toy cement mixer in his hand. “Simimi!” I loved his word for it, so I didn’t correct him. He’d learn the word soon enough. Simimi would be a short-lived joy. Another thing he’d grow out of that I’d be left to remember fondly.
We stopped doing an Easter Egg hunt a long time ago. My mom still sends a basket, which the Dude loves, and one of my sisters sends a goodie box, which he also loves. I buy Peeps and Cadbury Eggs to celebrate Lent. I like doing things backwards. I’ll do my atonement after Easter, when the candy is gone. I still have the cement mixer though. When I hold it in my hand, I can almost feel the weight of my son in my arms. It’s a reminder, that no matter how old he gets, no matter how far off he goes to find what he’s looking for, he’ll want to show me the Simimi if I ask him to. I can’t keep him from the journey, all I can ask is that he share the details. Except for the dating stuff. That, he can keep to himself.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Jeff Petersen © 2008 Creative Commons