Nothing makes me prouder as a parent than watching my little tikes bulldoze through the freshly trimmed grass and shrubs of their grandparents’ backyard in an effort to procure as many plastic colored eggs as they can—all while donning their Sunday’s best. I think it’s the jelly bean lust in their eyes that reminds me just how good of a job I’m doing as a parent, while simultaneously driving me toward my third and fourth holiday mimosas.
Now, I’ve never been to a dog race, but have been told that when the mechanical rabbit starts buzzing along the rail and those gates open, the dogs shoot out down the track like bullets from pistols. This is what I think of when watching my boys engage in their Easter egg hunt with other kids.
The sliding glass door to the backyard opens only partway before the first wave of them blast out onto the deck like an over-shaken bottle of root beer. Some, like my four-year-old, take the sensible route down the stairs to the yard. Others leap the railing, landing at the point where gravel meets grass some eight-to-ten feet below, and then tuck in their shoulders, rolling forward upon the ground like veteran paratroopers, which allows them to emerge from the roll without losing a tread of momentum.
This is when I realize that the others kids have trained long and hard for this.
Eyes wide with terror, a few toddlers linger on the deck. This is their very first egg hunt, and they peer back at the sliding glass door where their parents offer encouraging words while video recording their misery with camera phones. It’s worth noting that the toddlers’ fears are more than justified, for these are the same parents who—just a few months prior—plopped them onto the lap of a fat, old guy with a smelly beard and red jump suit.
Meanwhile, the scene in the yard can best be described as a cross between The Hunger Games and the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. Children—roughly four to nine years of age—reach for whatever blunt objects they can find to fend off competing egg-hunters. A boy in chorded pants and a blue-and-yellow sweater vest retrieves a shiv from his sock…a girl in a pink and white dress flings a barrage of ninja stars from her sleeve…
…and up near the house, I have begun unfolding the white flag that I intend to wave in front of the other parents. At this point, I liken my boys’ chances of finding a single plastic egg to Tim Tebow’s chances of ever being a star quarterback in the NFL.
And that’s when the miraculous happens.
My two-year-old had been among the toddler’s lingering on the deck. However, once past his reservations, he quickly gained ground, waddling down the stairs and scampering across the yard with abandon, where the older kids scratched and clawed and bludgeoned each other, shouting war cries and gesturing battle tactic signals to fellow soldiers of the hunt.
In the middle of this ruckus was my two-year-old son—all two-feet, nine inches of him—shuffling from one older kid to another, carefully snatching a plastic egg out of one basket before darting to the next…and then the next…and then the next–bouncing back and forth like a human pinball with the older children none the wiser to his scheme.
This is when my four-year-old caught on to what his brother was doing, and the two worked together like The Hulk and Batman who, in my son’s world of play, often fight crime together. The four-year-old, understanding that he would draw too much attention if he reached for the basket of an older kid, began barking instructions to the two-year-old on which baskets to target.
When their own baskets were filled to the brim with plastic eggs, the boys made their way back to the deck with smiles stretching out their cheeks. Behind them, the egg hunt ensued—though the numbers had been whittled down by a few casualties. My boys entered the house, mentally preparing for the sugar rush they were about to engage in—the trophy of their victory.
Here’s hoping you had a happy Easter, filled with good cheer, mimosas and fun with family and/or friends.