. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Here Comes That Damn Peter Cottontail

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Here Comes That Damn Peter Cottontail

It's almost Easter. Along with the colored eggs, funny hats, and plastic grass which we will be vacuuming up until next Christmas, I will have another mess to clean up: the truth about the Easter Bunny. I happen to teach in a school district that does not allow for the celebration of religious holidays. It's their form of political correctness. Never mind that we feed those kids all kinds of starchy untruths about the California Missionaries and the American government's role in the treatment of Native Americans. Those are lies they can live with. But making a cotton rabbit to celebrate a holiday that has barely any connection to a religion thanks to Hallmark is a lie they will just not be a party to.

Despite our best efforts to deny the existence of holidays, those wiley little kids somehow still find out when they're approaching and they can't temper their enthusiasm. It's all they want to talk about. Don't they know we have Language Arts and Math Standards to get through before the next benchmark test?!?!

For me, their excitement is not the problem. Their vastly different maturity levels is the problem. I teach nine and ten year olds. As a rule, those that have an older sibling understand by this age that their parents have been acting as stand-ins for such famous figures as Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. The jig is up, and man are they anxious to spread the truth. They are the Oral Roberts of revealing the truth about fictional holiday figures. On an occasion when a nonbeliever gets to convert a believer, the revealer of truth gets a look of singular satisfaction on his or her little face. It's as if the kids now have insight into one more of our adult mind-control tricks. "Oh sure, you got me stay in bed because you had me believing in that Boogy Man character, but NO MORE! Easter Bunny? Yeah, riiight! We're on to you and our numbers are growing!"

And then there is that poor set of believers. Even at the age of ten, they still believe a rabbit hides that candy-filled basket and all those pretty eggs. They raise their hands during lessons, but only to share how excited they are that Peter Cottontail is coming in thirty-six and a half days, or what they got last year, or how their little brother always gets jelly beans stuck in his nose. They have that kid-joy we all remember having and only comes from believing. Until Billy, last of seven siblings, announces information he, due to his birth order, has been aware of since he was a zygote. There is no Easter Bunny.

Here is where I come in. A crestfallen believer looks to me with a "say it ain't so" expression and I lie to him. "I don't care what Billy thinks, I still believe in the Easter Bunny and I'm an adult," I declare with confidence. "He comes to my house too!" The believer's sadness turns into relief. My work is done here. I have saved another believer's feelings while simultaneously keeping the adult mind-control machine in motion. Billy sits back and shakes his head with pity for the poor woman who still believes in the Easter Bunny, even at her age.

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