The Easter Bunny has ruined my life.

My wife claims to remember being three. So did my father. I can’t even remember much about being twenty. But there is a vast difference between remembering a place or an incident, and remembering how something feels.

Being three must feel a bit strange. Everything is big. Everything is new. And a whole lot of things are apparently rather scary. My daughter is three. Moths are unnerving. Bees are terrifying. Speaking in public is apparently deeply unsettling, which is a little odd since skipping through a mall dressed as a fairy with no shoes and a kilogram of self-applied make-up on is not.

A sure sign of crippling social anxiety

A sure sign of crippling social anxiety

And the Easter bunny is a sneaky, mean spirited and worrying lurker. A garden invader. A child stalker. As Easter approached this year, we began to realise that maybe, just maybe, we had talked the whole thing up a little too much. Three-year olds are weird. For some reason, when told that an enormous anthropomorphic rabbit knew where she lived, and would be nipping around outside her window while she slept, my daughter was not excited. She went all quiet. She toyed with her food at supper. She glanced nervously at the window.

And come sleep time, she made it clear that sleep was not on the cards. She had a few questions. Just a few little things that needed clearing up. Who was this bunny? How did he propose to get into our garden? Was this not precisely the sort of stranger that one shouldn’t take candy from? Did he have a license, or at least some sort of letter of introduction?

Easter is a special time for little children.

Easter is a special time for little children.

After forty minutes of spirited discussion, my son came to the rescue. He’s eight. Cynical. Worldly wise. He knows the game. And he knows the rewards. “Go to sleep”, he shouted “or we don’t get any chocolate!” And she did. And they did.

Feel free to pop round to the 23 thorns compound any time. Please just be aware that a nominal entrance fee will be charged.

Feel free to pop round to the 23 thorns compound any time. Please just be aware that a nominal entrance fee will be charged.

Five o’clock the next morning found me blundering around in the dark, greasing the wheels of international commerce by hiding a small fortune’s worth of chocolate eggs in a bush. I’m not good at five o’clock. I can’t think on my feet until at least ten. So when, as I staggered, bleary eyed and muddy, back toward the house for some coffee, I bumped into an equally bleary eyed three-year-old, I blew it.

“What,” she said, looking up at me suspiciously, “are you doing outside in the dark, Daddy?”

“Well,” I replied, crouching down in front of her, “I was lying asleep in bed when I heard a noise outside. I grabbed my torch and went out to have a look. There was nothing there. But as I turned around to come back inside, I heard something. I spun around and shone my torch, but all I saw was a bush moving, and a flash of white disappearing over the wall. What,” I asked, “Do you think it was?”

The bleary little eyes widened. There was a fearful glance at the bush in question. And then all I saw was a flash of white disappearing into the warmth of the house. Oops!

But all, at least in the short term, is well that ends well. There was chocolate. All was forgiven. Apparently it’s OK for enormous, sinister white lagomorphs to loiter about the property at night as long as they pay their dues. The Easter bunny was all right. For a while. But then he did something unforgivable. He bought my daughter’s dummies.

Those of you who have raised children may understand what a heinous thing this was to do. A dummy, for those of you feeling slightly bemused by the turn this post has taken, is a pacifier. Like some adults, some children can grow unnaturally attached to things. Nasty things. Bedraggled old blankets, or saliva soaked teddy-bears or rubber fatigued dummies. If you don’t have any of your own, and are the sort of maladjusted person who likes other peoples’ children, you are probably smiling to yourself and mumbling “cute”. You are wrong.

There is nothing cute about children and their “favourite” things. I put favourite in inverted commas, because it’s not the right word. That stuff is like heroin. It’s like Gollum’s precious. And you know what Gollum is like if you take his precious away. Try forgetting your child’s precious when you go away on holiday, and Gollum will suddenly seem rather likeable. An affable sort of chap. Pleasant company.

Hello, my good man! Care to join me for a cup of tea?

Hello, my good man! Care to join me for a cup of tea?

My daughter’s precious was her dummy. Or rather her collection of dummies. There was “golden”; a rather anachronistic looking thing made of soft rubber that was the main “sucking” dummy. Then there were “Big Blue” and “Big White”; two far more modern looking numbers with hard plastic parts and swivelling handles. One of them even glowed in the dark. These were not the “sucking” dummies of choice.

Golden. The Bringer of Light. The Restorer of Peace. He Who Must Not Be Misplaced.

Golden. The Bringer of Light. The Restorer of Peace. He Who Must Not Be Misplaced.

 The primary purpose of Big Blue and Big White was being clutched in the hands at night. They also performed a useful secondary role in that, by simply throwing them behind heavy pieces of furniture and then squawking, they could be used to make grownups look sad.

Then there was “Dirty Dummy”. Dirty Dummy was Golden’s older brother. It was not dirty. It was filthy. The rubber has started to rot away, and large parts of it seemed to have succumbed to some sort of fungal infestation. Dirty Dummy was not for sucking. It wasn’t even for clutching. But it couldn’t be thrown away. It just had to be around. I think she was using it to ward off evil spirits.

Begone, foul demon! You have no power here!

Begone, foul demon! You have no power here!

A few days after Easter, the woman who comes in to clean the house did something terrible. She hid the dummies. All of them. Not just from my daughter, but from us as well. It took us a while to realise this. The first sign of impending danger came when, just before bed-time, a tear stained, chocolate stained little face appeared round the corner.

“I can’t find Golden anywhere!”

We knew what this meant. No rest for anyone ‘til she found her precious. We sprang into action and stripped the house. Golden was nowhere to be found. Oh dear. We straightened our backs, squared our shoulders, and went through to enter into negotiations.

“Golden is missing. You’ll have to use Big Blue.”  We closed our eyes, clenched our teeth, and waited for the explosion. There wasn’t one.

“OK”

“What?”

“OK”

“Are you ill?”

She disappeared round the corner. And reappeared two minutes later.

“I can’t”, she sobbed, all quivering lips and wringing hands, “find Big Blue anywhere.”

Bugger. We stripped the house again. No luck. Oh well. Off to the all-night pharmacy to buy an emergency Golden replacement. But then my wife had a brainwave.

“Do you know what I think has happened?”

“What?” came the tearful reply.

“I think the Eater Bunny has taken your dummies to give them to some little babies, because he knows you’re not a baby anymore.”

“The Easter Bunny stole Big Blue and Golden?”

“No, he didn’t steal them. I’m sure he will leave some money for them under your pillow. He just wants to share them with those poor little babies who don’t have any dummies of their own.”

A note to all new parents. Throw away all this books you bought. This is all you need.

A note to all new parents. Throw away all this books you bought. This is all you need.

And it worked! After a brief, forty-five minute discussion about what she was going to be buying with her bunny-money, my daughter rolled over and went to sleep. No problem. My wife is a parenting genius.

The next day, after frantically scrabbling under her pillow for the R10 the Easter Bunny had left, we set off to the shops to use it to magically buy R100 worth of tiny plastic Barbie shoes. And then it all fell apart.

Barbie shoes clutched firmly in her sweaty little hands, she looked up at us.

 “The Easter Bunny”, she announced, “can bring back my dummies now.”

Oh dear.

“He can’t, mouse; he’s already given them to the babies.”

“But I want them!”

Bed time that night wasn’t a time for stories. It was a harrowing hour-long negotiation. Promises were made. And threats. From both sides.

Now our lives have descended into evening time anarchy. During the day, my daughter is sweetness and light. With the approach of bed-time, she turns into the antichrist. Somehow, this has become my fault. I cannot feed her, bath her, dress her or even go near her. I get screamed at. Doors are slammed in my face. Heavy toys are thrown at me. My wife can only get her to sleep by telling her an hours-worth of stories about when she was a baby before singing her the national anthem (don’t ask!)

Like all things parenting, this too shall pass. But I fear for the Easter Bunny next year. He had better be super quiet when he sneaks into our garden, because someone is going to be waiting for him. In a tiny Elmer Fudd hat. With a cartoon shotgun gripped firmly in her little hand.

Be vewy, vewy quiet!

Be vewy, vewy quiet!

And if he gets past her, he’s going to have me to deal with!

flamethrower

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72 thoughts on “The Easter Bunny has ruined my life.

  1. Eileen says:

    Been there done that, thank God, with only the last of five.

  2. Lyn says:

    What a wonderful bedtime story. I love stories about kids, they’re just gorgeous. But then, I have 8 grandchildren so I’m bound to feel that way 🙂

  3. jjspina says:

    Thank you for following my blog. You have a good sense of humor. I want to follow you.

  4. Bill McCurry says:

    My God, this is hilarious. Thank you.

    As a little girl my wife bonded with a rag doll that looked like a flower child–Love Doll. When their Great Pyrenees reduced Love doll to shreds no larger than bank notes one night, you can imagine the trauma. While under emotional assault, her mother spent several hours scouring the yard, puzzling bits of cloth into place, and ironing the doll back together with bias tape. And yes, Love Doll now lives in my wife’s cedar chest 40 years later.

    • 23thorns says:

      While it might be nice to hold on to a childhood memento or two, we won’t be holding on to the dummies. They were getting pretty nasty towards the end. I’d hate to see what they looked like after forty years of rubber fatigue!

  5. joanfrankham says:

    Hi, I am not sure how you feel about awards, but I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award, you can check it out on my blog, I do hope you can accept. Joan

  6. OMG – what a GREAT story – really made me laugh!

  7. narf77 says:

    You had the very same situation that we had when wrapping Christmas presents one year…the ability to think quickly is a much underrated achievement when you have children…it can be your saving grace! My son used to throw his dummies onto the railway tracks and he would ONLY accept the most expensive dummies and as young parents we were perpetually poverty stricken so my husband had to stop me jumping down onto the tracks to retrieve the gold encrusted accoutrement…I am starting to realise (with hindsight) that we are parents of our own parents desires…they wished this on us so that we would have SOME vague idea how much torture we put them through and that we would gain some sort of understanding and camaraderie through our combined suffering and misery. Let’s just hope that the Easter Bunny takes full advantage of a bit of genetic engineering and is able to protect himself with some lovely armadillos scales next year…

  8. This is really funny! I appreciate the irony and humor about parenting and very well-written with great photographs.

  9. liz2you says:

    We’ve all been there but you know how to put it just write/right! Excellent.
    Liz

  10. Ashley Fox says:

    You’re an amazing writer! I really enjoyed this 🙂

  11. Spy Garden says:

    This made me laugh SO hard. Hilarious.

  12. annette48 says:

    Thanks for the ‘like’ on my blog. This is brilliant! Thanks for the chuckle (at your expense, of course, sorry).

  13. mollytopia says:

    Beyond hilarious! “Promises were made. And threats. From both sides.” Genius – thanks for the laugh!

  14. Absolutely loved this. Loved the brilliant popular culture references, especially the Bugs Bunny and LoTR! Your household sounds like a lot of stressful fun. You have a very comical way of writing.

  15. I have a genuine hatred for pacifiers and am working hard to wean my son off of the foul things these days so that I can actually sleep at night instead of going into his room and replacing it over and over and over. Never again am I going to be using these for future children. Urgh.

  16. I am far too scared to ever take my daughter’s dummy away. She’s a furious little demon about going to sleep even with it!

  17. fozziemum says:

    I feel your pain at the jocularity that is parenting on a celebratory occasion such as Easter.Hilarious story/tragic…is there not an occasion marred by a mythical character bearing gifts! my babies are all adults now…apparently. But the memories are still vivid..hubby sneaking out and hiding the chocolate eggs only to have our Rottweiler find all bar one…emergency dash to a cupboard of reserves…the kids were so entranced when the next day Eich (said egg scoffing rottweiler) was leaving his own brightly colored silver foil eggs in the backyard…
    My nemesis now is the real bunny..leaving holes all around our property..gnawing any poor unsuspecting flower or plant of color in this very sunburnt landscape.I can’t tell you the joy i feel when a little fluffy white tailed bunny…pretty as can be and just as cute as a button, goes merrily hopping past me as i lie in a heap from an ankle twisting expedition down to the paddocks…
    Again i loved your story and also thankyou for liking my roo photo..at least they haven’t started eating my house yet!

    • 23thorns says:

      Out in the coutryside here we have Aardvarks. They leave the flowers alone, but make holes big enough for a child to disappear down.

      • fozziemum says:

        Good grief…i straight away get a visual..my mind she wanders ( as i believe you know full well can be a pain)…a squad Aardvark Rescue …equipped with ropes,full riot head gear, a bag of Aardvark treats ready to get the hole dweller out..a bag of lollies to calm the child down.
        Then i think of Monty Python…Alvin the Aardvark goes quantity surveying…..perhaps i will stick with these wretched rabbits..today i noticed a new hole…the paddock is starting to look like a slice of swiss cheese…now i want cheese…well.cheers and thanks for the great posts 🙂

  18. Anna says:

    The Golden Dummy: One dummy to rule them all. Bwahahaha!!!
    Thanks for the morning laughs. Frankly I agree with your daughter- strangers sneaking into the house after you’ve gone to sleep? Creepy.
    Not sure how we’re going to run with these (our son is only 13 months), but Krampus seems a promising possibility… *grin*

    • 23thorns says:

      I had never heard of Krampus before, so I Googled him. Good God! Christmas must be a terrifying time for kids in Europe. Do they set up a stall for him in shopping centres next to Father Christmas?

      • Anna says:

        Alas, I live in the US, but I hear there are nights when grownups dress like Krampus and chase children through the streets, brandishing big sticks and being generally off-their-rockers. Sounds terrible/awesome/bizarre/hilarious 🙂
        I got my hubby a Krampus shirt for Christmas this year. He was thrilled. We even have talked about doing Krampus pictures with a local photographer as a joke.

      • 23thorns says:

        This just keeps getting better! Next Christmas I’m going to tell my children we’re going to have a traditional Austrian Christmas. Then I’m going to chase them through the streets with a big stick.

      • Anna says:

        Heh heh heh. Way to embrace the holiday spirit! 🙂

      • theh2obaby says:

        It’s fantastic! Krampus has friends, too. It’s a nice balance to that goody-two-shoes Kris Kringle and his ever-singing elves.

      • Bill McCurry says:

        One of my friends here in the States is working hard to institute a Krampus tradition, one mortified child at a time. His Krampus costume is chilling.

  19. pilipala51 says:

    I truly enjoyed reading your story. I hope it all turns out well soon. Just thought I would mention that I had three dummies on a ribbon around my neck until shortly before I started school. After some persuasion, and many occasions, I stood in front of the fire and threw them on it. I was a big girl now and the important thing was that I had made the decision.

    • 23thorns says:

      Your technique has a certain finality to it. Golden and Big Blue are sitting on a high shelf in the kitchen, calling to us every night as we wrestle her to sleep.

  20. imagesbyerin says:

    I love this! Thank you so much for your visit, thus allowing me to find your blog. I know exactly what you went through, we went through a horrible time when the dummies disappeared.
    Looking forward to reading some more of your writing.

  21. The stories you tell about your kids are the best.

  22. javaj240 says:

    I remember the days following the appearance of “The Pacifier Fairy”! Harrowing. It’s got nothing on adolescence, though.

  23. Very funny and very true. I’m beginning to believe that 3 year-old girls are the same the world over.

  24. tric says:

    I loved this. All my kids had soothers and were deeply attached. I used to gradually limit the use to night time. I can still remember my son. As a baby such was the level of suction he applied whilst sucking it I used to say he could be picked up by it. When he was about 3 he would hand it over in the morning and I would put it on a shelf until night time. Every morning he would give it to me and then at the last second he would say, “just one more minute”, then he would suck it furiously like maggie in the simpsons.

    • 23thorns says:

      We tried that. But we’re backsliders. “One more minute” turned into “whenever I’m crying”, which turned into “Give them to me now or I’ll cry!”

      • tric says:

        Ah we all soften, they know every trick to wear us down.. I’m ridiculous with my fourth. The other kids are always giving out to me. Whatever standards I tried to have with them are gone, and life is actually much easier.

      • 23thorns says:

        I was the second of four, and my older sister and I were scandalised by quite how far standards had slipped by the time my youngest sister came round. She was allowed chewing gum! And television!

  25. Our student midwife got blamed as the dummy thief in our house. When Orik was born (at home) the student midwife took Jasper’s dummy upon our request and “gave it to the other babies at the hospital that had just been born baby Orik”. It worked a treat until we discovered Allegra awake and screaming at 9:30 at night. Opportunistic little monkey woke up and pilfered his 20 month old sisters dummy then comfortably went back to sleep, leaving her in the greatest of distress. Needless to say, hers dummy attachment was severed too and some serious train bribes (a Thomas train each night they slept dummy free) from their new and youngest sibling. Sadly now, Allegra is known to pinch Orik’s dummy on occasion so we’ve resorted to showing her pictures of horrid teeth on the net and telling her she will have teeth look like this if she sucks the dummy. So far it’s working quite well. The things we do as parents.

    • 23thorns says:

      We got it right with my son. He caught foot and mouth disease (not the sheep one, apparently we have our own!). The poor little bigger could hardly even eat for a week, but that was it with the dummies.
      Not that I would knowingly infect my daughter with it. Yet. Give me a few more nights like this, though………

      • Give it a week. It took about a week for Allegra to settle and stop screaming. A fun house we had with a 3yo, 20 month old with big lungs and a 2 day old baby. 😉
        And yes, HFM would most definitely do the trick if he had a mouthful of sores. Not a fun virus that one. Still and all, a rather pleasant outcome there. 😉

  26. joanfrankham says:

    ha ha, super funny post, and we have all been there at some stage…love your comments also, can’t wait for the Christmas episode!

  27. IAMM3Z says:

    I absolutely loved your story. Your use of humor is amazing! Thanks for posting this, it was the highlight of my afternoon.

    My youngest is 18 months and she doesn’t have a dummy. We were lucky that she refused them at birth. But my oldest, now 8, had pacies. And not just any pacy would do. The doctor who delivered her introduced her to a specific pacy that at the time was only sold at the hospital. So if you lost her pacy you were screwed. I kept three around at all times so I wouldn’t have to deal with her fits of anger. Eventually she got older and would use a traditional pacy but only if it were upside down.

    When we finally broke her from her pacy addiction we didn’t do it all clever like you did. We just cut her off cold turkey and told her she was a big girl now. That’s probably why at 8 I struggle to gain her acceptance. I was the pacy thief… If my youngest creates an attachment I’m totally taking a page out of your story and blaming it on the Easter Bunny.

    • 23thorns says:

      We had the same thing. The only place that sold honey dummies like Golden was the hospital pharmacy. Luckily, they’re just around the corner and open all night.

  28. lylekrahn says:

    I do recall those intense and nonsensical negotiations. Everything is just so real for them.

  29. My son used to call his pacifier his “Need it.” Now that’s addiction.

  30. Sue says:

    My grandkids loved the evil Easter Bunny pic. Funny story that every parent has experienced!

  31. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Mmm… This brings back memories of a certain Pink Panther toy that vanished (having been left, in error, at a friend’s house). Anarchy and the Russian Revolution had nothing on it. I can’t tell you the cost of phone calls, and eventually a new (hurriedly grubbied) PP. And then no.1 reappeared… Well, PPs have brothers and sisters, you know….

  32. James Corner says:

    I can sympathise. My youngest daughter had four cuddly toys that were essential to life and accompanied her everywhere. The boss was Super-Ted who looked like a normal teddy with a tea towel tied around his neck to me but apparently was a caped super hero. Unfortunately he was not very principled and countless explanations of naughty behaviour were prefaced by “Super-Ted said it would be OK if I … “

  33. mambolounge says:

    As a semi-professional Easter Bunny, I am pleased to see that my efforts have not gone unnoticed. See you again next year…

  34. avian101 says:

    Great story! 🙂

  35. So funny and so real (about the pacifiers – never was something so aptly named!) Thanks for that laugh. My sister in law has created an Easter tradition of having pictures taken of her little girls sitting on the Easter Bunny’s lap – the oldest girl looking terrified and crying hysterically. Year after year we have received copies of these kinds of pictures, which had the effect of horrifying and disturbing our own children. “How can they keep torturing them like that?” They ask us, tears in their eyes. Seriously! They dread the arrival of the Easter Bunny pictures! He is sinister indeed! Great post, as always.

  36. zen city says:

    agreed. the easter bunny is very scary. this is what he looks like in nyc: http://myzencity.com/2013/04/02/5th-avenue-easter/

    🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      our internet connection is hugely buggy at the moment. I tried to follow the link, but all I found was a jogger in a thong. I’ll just have to use my imagination. Unless that’s what the Easter bunny looks like in New York. In which case my imagination will be shutting down in self defence.

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