For a host of reasons, Easter is one of my favorite holidays in the year, mostly because it is the beginning of the sunshine season. Ever since the awfulness of this past winter finally subsided, I know I was not alone in my unfettered eagerness to see some evidence of spring. Hallelujah!
The entire weekend was glorious, filled with sunshine and moderate temperatures.
On Saturday morning, we attended the annual egg hunt in the down-town section of our little village next to the
River. It is a fund raiser for the local civic society. The event
starts promptly at 10:00 and is pretty much over by 10:03, so it’s important
not to be late.
Paul insisted we get there to register by 9:30. ‘Register’ basically means handing the nice lady behind the table next to the Easter Bunny a $10 bill. So, with that business was done in approximately 17 seconds, we now had half an hour to kill.
Paul can sometimes be a hair (or in this case, a hare!) overzealous in his approach to physical activities with our girls, especially if prizes are at stake. In his mind, it is all training for their Olympic debut someday. After seeing the lack of participation from
India in the latest winter games,
he has already devised a stratagem to compete under the Indian flag to ease the
stress of qualifying.
In any event, the prizes were plastic eggs filled with penny candies, an apparent powerful motivator. Paul was determined we get our $10 worth. He used the spare time to circle the field and strategize.
He found his preferred spot for the girls to start, a good distance away from any of the other children who lined up next to the registration lady, clumped in masses of unnecessary competition. Amateurs! Most children had cute little Easter baskets. Not us. Our girls had deep buckets. To be fair, Paul had the girls put stickers on them too.
Next, he started coaching the girls to pick up as many eggs as they can. ‘We’ll open them after the hunt is done…don’t stop and open them until the bucket is full…okay?’ he said with a sense of encouragement tinged with urgency.
Remember the movie Fight Club with Brad Pitt? I kept thinking in my head, ‘The number one rule of egg hunt is…you do not talk about the egg hunt!’
Because I enjoy making my beloved twitch, I started counter-programming the girls. ‘
what color is your favorite? Yellow? Okay, only pick up the yellow ones!’ Paul, unimpressed, snappily jumped in to correct me, ‘Pick
up all of the colors Sidney!’
Anyway, it was all great fun and they practically had an entire corner of the field to themselves. They succeeded in the chase and came home with a bucket full o’ eggs.
Later that day, it was time to dye the real eggs. We chose to do this craft in the buff as we were sure to be dyeing more than eggs. I should clarify, the girls were naked…not us! As it turns out, egg dye works petty well on little hands too.
On Easter morning, shortly after 6:00, the girls woke up and climbed into our bed in a dazed bewilderment, as is the custom on most mornings. Our bed is the waiting spot for everyone to ease into the awake hours. Of course, you can be sure that only applies to the girls. Paul and I are expected to click our heels and be ready to serve immediately after their eyelashes part. This is often at odds with my need to lubricate my brain with a cup of coffee before I can satisfy anyone’s demands. Actually, I often wish I could skip the second cup of coffee and go right for the third!!!
Our trio can have very sweet moments but they are not at their best right after they wake up. Especially Aria, who typically needs 20 to 30 minutes to ease into the day. If you try and rush this process – as we often do despite knowing better – she goes off the reservation and usually gives us her best portrayal of a scene from the exorcist which quickly spirals into a chaos that you probably would not believe if I told you. Be assured, stuff will be thrown!
I only wish this were a great exaggeration however, Aria is our ‘stress-sensitive’ child. This is the term we learned at a parenting lecture last summer. We decided ‘stress-sensitive’ was just a nice way to say ‘cranky’ and while it sounds more polite, it also sounds more expensive to cure. But she definitely has that! We go to great lengths to keep her on the even keel and often fail miserably.
Anyway, once they arrive at the edge of our bed, the rapid-fire demands from their furrowed faces begin. They need to be pampered and cuddled and placed ever so gently on a pillow before they can proceed with waking up. We have realized over time that the trade off for good, sound sleepers is they have a process to emerge from their sleep-comas. If you try and rush this process, nobody wins. Nobody!
Meanwhile, I want them to be excited for what the Easter Bunny left them in the kitchen and they don’t have the slightest idea of what day of the week it is much less that it is a special holiday.
Eventually, we work our way downstairs and their eyes light up at the setting-in reality that this day shall start with CANDY!
Next up, it’s time to get all dolled up for church. We have a hit-or-miss relationship with church. If I take one or even two little girls with me, they are dainty little ladies who inevitably cause smiles at their palatable adorableness. When all three are present, we are often less admired.
Last Christmas, we brought all three to the Christmas-eve children’s mass, which was a late afternoon affair packed to the brim with eager, well-dress children and their extended families. As we entered, each child was given a small toy animal that would be placed in the manger next to baby Jesus later in the service.
Despite a few extra ants-in-their-pants inspired by no nap and a late afternoon activity, all was going mostly fine until it was time to line up for this manger drop-off bit. We were in the back of the church so we were at the very end of the procession. Once we arrived at the front, baby Jesus was flanked with a scene of plastic toy animals of all shapes and sizes.
Now, if you are three years old and are confronted with putting your little animal toy IN a pile or taking some of the choices OUT of the pile, which way do you think your little brain would favor?
Sidney and Vivian reluctantly forfeited their animal and then sulked away with Paul. I was left with Aria – our ‘stress-sensitive’ child – and she was not having it. She was the very last child and I did my best to gently persuade her to drop the donkey as her grip tightened.
Everyone is watching by now and giggling under their breath as they see a classic battle brewing. I am sure it looks adorable from the comfort of their pew. But I know better. I take the hand holding the animal and give it a good shake and it drops. I start to walk away.
Aria crosses her arms in protest and plants her feet steadfastly in place. I know I have about 6 seconds to evacuate before I have to make a reservation for confession for the words I’m about to say. I scoop her up and whisk her away so mass may continue. She immediately turns into a tornado of flailing spaghetti arms and legs as I realize we have now entered the danger zone.
I attempt to sit back down with the rest of our family but quickly realize we need to leave the church. I scoop her back up in my arms and start making my way out as she starts screaming. This coincides with the exact moment the children’s choir is introduced to start singing Silent Night.
As I am nudging my way through shoulders of parents trying to film their children singing, Aria starts screaming for ‘DADDY!!!!’ at the top of her lungs.
I fight through dirty looks of disapproval. I am sure that nobody knows this girl has a Daddy AND a Papa. All they can see is a sweaty man struggling with a girl who is screaming for her Daddy. There was no compassion for a parent dealing with a bad situation. Kill me now!
As I reach the door, I hear Vivian, who has become very upset that I am leaving the church, start screaming ‘Papa!’ from the other end while melting into a nightmare in Paul’s arms.
I managed to make my way back in to the church for communion when the priest – a parent of 2 toddlers of his own - whispered to me, ‘…we are almost done, my brother. Hang in there.’
I’m mortified to think of all those parents and relatives with video on their smart phones of a sweetly sung Silent Night tinged with a screaming chorus of ‘DADDY! ….PAPA!’ in the background.
So as I was saying, Church can be hit or miss for us. To my delight, Easter morning did not include any special toys or processions. The girls were happy and pretty and behaved for most of the service, except for Vivian who wanted to sing, even when the singing stopped.
After mass, we hosted an Easter feast at our house. We were a group of 14 and enjoyed a bounty of good food and better company. We finished off the day with another egg hunt in our back yard and then a homemade apple strudel.
All in all, a glorious Easter weekend full of fun and smiles. Nonetheless, I was thankful for Monday when I could return to the relative comfort of the office.