Around these parts - the Easter Bunny is alive and well.
Also, I was thinking that maybe we'd be home on Saturday night (Easter Eve) and I'd have ample time to put the children's baskets together and hide Easter eggs around our home.
But that didn't happen.
Because - although I haven't written about it yet - after we were in New York, we traveled up to Massachusetts to see my family. And on Saturday, there was an Easter egg hunt at my father's assisted living facility. Following that, we visited with my brother, Frank. And by the time we got on the road, it was almost 4PM. And there was no way we were going to make it from Massachusetts to Virginia before Easter morning. Especially since we were planning to stop in Pennsylvania's Amish Country and rendezvous with my sister, Janet.
En route to Pennsylvania, we stopped for dinner in Davenport, Connecticut and I noticed that directly across the street - there was a Pier I imports. And lo and behold, from all of the pastel signs in the windows, it was obvious they were having a BIG Easter sale. So I'm thinking that because we're not going to be home in time for me to pull together Easter baskets, we'll just make a quick stop and I'll grab a few little things for the kids so that we can continue to perpetuate the Easter Bunny fairytale for as long as possible.
We pull the car up to Pier I, and I hop out while Charlie gets the kids dressed in their pajamas. We still had another four hour drive to our destination and we knew it would be much more comfortable for the children (and us) if they were already ready for bed when we arrived. As Charlie's dressing the kids, I discreetly dart in to Pier I.
Within 10 minutes, I'd stocked up various toys and supplies for two baskets - one for the girls and one for the boys. Because there wasn't THAT much stuff and because most of it was made of paper or cheap wood, it came as a surprise that my total was $96.84.
I hesitantly hand the cashier money - she hands me my receipt and I walk out of the store, examining my receipt and feeling like a dope because everything that I bought wasn't on sale. Except the Easter baskets.
Almost instantly, that feeling of regret sets in. I most definitely shouldn't have bought this stuff. For Pete's sake: we're on a road trip. We don't need this stuff in the car in addition to all of the other stuff that we have in the car. We're in financial savvy mode and forking out close to $100.00 for a bunch of imported toys that are going to:
1) Add to the clutter in our all ready overstuffed car
2) Be fought over and/or broken within 10 minutes (which will prompt me to)
3) Throw them out as soon as feasible
Especially since there are more necessary things I could do with that money.
Summoning my husband to the back of the car and closing all the doors (so the kidlets couldn't hear us), I show Charlie my merchandise. I express to him my concern over buying these things, when we have OTHER things at home and we're trying to save money. Charlie convinces me that we should keep everything because tomorrow is Easter. And can you put a price tag on happiness when it comes to our children?
THINK OF THE CHILDREN, JEN.
Okay. Fine. I'm thinking of them. And my gut is telling me I still should return everything. But we need to get on the road. We've been eating and shopping for close to two hours now and that's just delaying our arrival. However, just before we pull out of the parking lot and continue on our way, Elizabeth informs me that she needs to go potty.
And oh by the way, when we were visiting my brother, Frank, earlier that afternoon, Elizabeth was jumping on his trampoline (for the record: I really don't like those things) and landed awkwardly and I'm convinced that she has re-fractured her ankle. At that moment, she could not walk. So I pick her up and carry her in to Pier I, with William and Carolyn who tagged along to help open doors. As I make my way to the counter with a visibly hurt child in my arms, and two small children dressed in their pajamas, I very politely ask if we could use their restroom. And the cashier says, "I'm sorry. We don't have a restroom."
What? "You don't have a restroom?"
She shrugs. "Nope. Sorry..." She stares at me for a moment before continuing, "The closest bathroom is at Bed, Bath & Beyond off the (some unknown road) behind (some unknown restaurant)."
I wasn't sure how to respond. Finally I stammered, "So, what you're telling me is that you don't have a bathroom, anywhere in this store?" She gave me a smug smile. "Sorry..."
Of course they have a bathroom. They need to have a bathroom for their employees. And also, every other Pier I I've ever been to has a restroom. The one in San Diego had one of the nicest public bathrooms I've ever visited. There was fragrant potpourri and pretty pictures and wicker furniture. They don't have a restroom?
She might as well have said they don't have candles. Or glassware.
So I walk out to the car, deposit Elizabeth in her seat, and summon Charlie to the back of the car, again. "Apparently, they don't have a restroom. Or at least, they don't have one that they'll allow us to use. Do they think that I just WANDERED in there? Do they not realize that I am a customer who just stropped close to $100 in that store?"
In my totally fumed state I said to my husband, "Give me that bag. I'm going back in there and returning ALL of that overpriced junk. I'll just tell them that since I'm going to Bed, Bath & Beyond - I'll buy all of my Easter basket supplies there. I'll also use one of my 20% off coupons."
Charlie shook his head. "Come on, Jen. Seriously, we have to go. If we're going to get to Pennsylvania before 2AM, we need to hit the road. And Elizabeth has to go to the bathroom. Forget about it. Besides, the kids will LOVE this stuff..."
Only because I didn't want for us to be driving all night, nor did I want my child to wet her only pair of pajamas, I said "Fine - I won't return it, NOW. But we are NOT giving this stuff to the kids. Couldn't they see that I had an INJURED child in my arms who had to use the bathroom - and they turned us away? That's immoral. Especially since I just spent a lot of money in that store on stuff I didn't even need!! Even if it was a PRIVATE bathroom, I'd consider a paying customer carrying a pajama-clad child with a foot wrapped up in bandages would be considered an EXTENUATING circumstance. To heck with them!"
Ultimately, we found another restroom. And then we drove four more hours to our hotel. And as I was going to bed, I was thinking that the kids probably wouldn't be that disappointed on Easter morning, especially since we were staying at a great hotel with an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. They'd be far too distracted to get up and go jump in...
Those were the justification thoughts floating through my mind as I dozed off.
Early the next morning, William was up first. He jumped out of bed and started looking all over the room. He looked under his pillow - in all of the drawers - under the bed. And then, he came over to my bed and very sullenly said, "Mom. The Easter Bunny didn't come. The Easter Bunny forgot about us." And he collapsed in to tears.
That woke up his sisters, who collapsed in to tears. It was the saddest thing, ever … as Charlie rolled over and looked at me and said, "So, is this worth $100 to you?"
"Yes. It is," I replied.
I'm trying to simplify my life. Those trinkets from Pier I are the antithesis of simplification. Moreover, Easter isn't about candy and toys and Easter baskets. Our children need to understand that.
Nonetheless, when the sadness didn't dissipate, I told the kids that maybe the Easter Bunny would come that night. Once we returned, home.
Wouldn't you know, that appeased them. But by the time we got home and unpacked and ready for bed, I completely forgot. So Monday morning was a repeat of Sunday morning. The kids woke up, eagerly checked for gifts left by the Easter Bunny, and dissolved in to tears because once again - He Stood Them Up.
That darn bunny.
Just like the Tooth Fairy who has forgotten to stop by on the first night, for five of the eleven teeth we've lost.
This week, my plan was that THIS weekend, I would redeem the faithfulness of the Easter Bunny. I would totally surprise the kids. So last night, I used the gifts that I'd bought before (more practical gifts like paint and sidewalk chalk and not just junk that will break) and I put together their Easter baskets which I placed in their rooms. And then, Charlie and I were up late in to the night stuffing close to 200 plastic Easter eggs with little toys, money and chocolate candy.
Before we turned in to bed, we decided that it would be best if we hid the eggs at night. Because in the morning, the kids would probably be up before we were and they'd totally see us, sneaking around the yard. So in the pitch black of night, with our headlamps guiding us, my husband and I set out and deposited 200 eggs all around our property.
We climbed in to trees to put the brightly colored eggs on branches, and we shimmied down the banks of the creek to perch them on stones. Once we had distributed all of the eggs, we smiled and high-fived each other.
Our sweet children will be so happy.
Carolyn was up first. She wandered in to our room and climbed in to bed with me. I sleepily asked her, "Did you hear that noise last night? It sounded like something was trying to come in to our house. Louie was barking and I heard a 'thump! thump! thump! coming down the hallway…" She whipped her head towards me with eyes like saucers, "NO. Oh my goodness! Do you think it was a robber? In our house?!"
"No, no," I reassured her. "I don't think it was a robber. I think it might have been Peter Cottontail, coming back to visit those children he missed last week." The words no sooner left my mouth and she flew out of bed and to the window. Her eyes squinted and strained trying to pick out anything unusual in the backyard. As her focus fell on the tree house, where we'd staggered eggs up the steps, she started to scream.
Scream, I tell you.
"OH MY GOODNESS, YOU GUYS!" She yells out as she took off running out of our room. "Carolyn!" I whisper. "DO NOT WAKE ANY ONE UP, YET!" She stops and looks at me. "Oh, okay, Mom" she responds. "I'm just going to go in to my room … for a minute."
She walks around the corner and I can hear her whispering, "Elizabeth! Elizabeth! Wake up!! WAKE UP!! The Easter Bunny came to see us!! Squee!!!!!!"
Within less than 10 seconds, all four children are standing in our room, fully dressed, with their Easter baskets (the contents of which they'd dumped out) ready to go on an egg hunt.
I'm thinking that I should hide Easter eggs every school night, so that I can get them up and dressed in the morning. Honestly, I've never seen them get ready so fast.
Charlie and I heave ourselves out of bed. We pull on some clothes, lace up some shoes, and walk outside with the children. Immediately, we can tell that something is amiss.
It appeared that almost all of the eggs had been cracked open. There were little candy wrappers scattered on the ground. The only eggs that remain intact are those that were hidden in the mailbox or which have toys and money inside.
The kids are confused, we are confused.
As I walk over and pick up an egg, I see that it has tiny little teeth marks all over it. As I'm inspecting the egg, Charlie asks, "So, do you think it was a deer?"
"A DEER?" I ask. And then I have to stop myself from laughing hysterically because it's early and my husband hasn't yet had his coffee. His mind doesn't function properly until he's had his french roast. "No, I don't think it was a deer. I think it was a squirrel..." I tell him. "A deer would have to STOMP on an egg to open it and I don't they could peel back the tinfoil on a Hershey Kiss. But squirrels, well they've got those tiny sharp claws and teeth..."
The kids weren't too disappointed because the Easter Bunny still did come, after all. He visited them and the woodland animals that live in our yard. Those little woodland animals that probably consumed twice their body weight in chocolate. We're now on the lookout for totally plump, hyperactive squirrels zipping around on a sugar-high.
Our children have always had good reason to distrust squirrels.
They're nothing more than candy thieves!