As we were getting dressed to go the Easter Egg Hunt and children’s festival at our daughter’s preschool and church, the question came blazing at me far too early on a Saturday morning. Carrying her Easter basket and dressed like a pre-tween, she walked into my bathroom with the blow dryer running and demanded,
“Is the tooth fairy real? I mean, don’t the parents leave the money? You said Tinkerbell was make believe so that means the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, right? So does that mean parents hide the Easter eggs too? And bring the baskets?”
I was so shocked I turned my back to her to hide my stunned look and mouthed, “OH S**T!”
Where was my husband? Why do I always get these tough questions? She’s already asked, “where do babies come out of a woman’s body?” And “How did the baby get in the tummy in the first place?” And on the first day of first grade, “Angela said the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, are you the one leaving the money?”
I always replied in the past with the question, “Well what do you think?” So I tried that tactic again, but she wasn’t falling into this parent trap.
“I think the parents do it. Is the Easter Bunny real mom? I mean how does he even get into the house without setting off the alarm?”
And there it was, the moment of truth. I always said if our kids asked point blank I would tell them the truth, I’ve always felt bad lying to them anyways. I mean when they’re younger it’s a fun ritual, creating the magic of childhood. But now that she’s older, and so stinking perceptive, I feel even worse. I wanted to say right in that moment, me in my robe and half-dried hair, already late for the event, “Yes honey, parents help to keep the magic of the holidays alive. The Easter Bunny isn’t real. It’s always been us.”
But I couldn’t. My throat burned, and I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I choked out, “Can we talk about this later, just you and I?”
That seemed to satisfy her, but down deep I knew that I needed to process what this truth meant. I wasn’t keeping the magic of the Elf, and Santa, and the Easter Bunny alive for her, I was doing it for me. I was cherishing every second of her childhood that I could, because it’s flying by too flipping fast, and I’m not ready for it to end.
As she left the room for me to finish getting ready, I wept. How did we get here? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was injecting myself multiple times a day, praying that IVF would work? And wasn’t it just yesterday I was getting up three times a night to nurse this miracle girl? When did she get so smart? Why was this happening so fast? Can’t we just stop time?
After the event my husband and I stole a few moments and tried to discuss what to do. He was fine with us telling her the truth if she asked again, but he didn’t want to say, “If you believe, you will receive.” He felt like this would shame her into believing. We also were worried if we did tell her the truth, she would tell all of her friends at school and her little sister. All day I read online the proper way to say it, even asking Pastor Brooke for advice while we were at church that morning.
So at bedtime, when she and I were alone, I was finally ready to tell her. After I tucked in her little sister I tiptoed to her room, took a deep breath, and found my courage and confidence to have this chat.
“Hi babe, whatcha doin’?” I asked walking into her room, trying to sound casual and bide some time.
“Writing a letter to the Easter Bunny. I’m not sure what to say, but I figure if he brings us such nice things, maybe we could leave him a present this year?”
I exhaled, and nodded, “Good idea. Let me know when you’re done and we can read it together.”
You see, she’s in the middle, teetering in between those stages of little girl and tween, but still believing in the magic. In that moment I decided to trust my gut and give her one more year of the Easter Bunny’s cotton ball trails. One more year of a house littered with candy filled eggs, and one more year of eyes filled with wonder from the make believe.
For her yes, but more for me. Next year we will tell the truth when asked, but this year, we will savor the smiles.
I would totally dance around it – like I do with Santa. I just cannot admit it!!! I can’t. I just say “I don’t know.” And “You know I wouldn’t condone a whole basket of candy, so where does that leave us?” But I fess up to the non-candy/basket presents – and make a big to do about bringing them out with eyes watching me. (They get sandals , swimsuits, and other hot-weather necessities each Easter, from mom & dad).
Totally understand you wanting her to cherish this bit of childhood just a little longer… Innocence is gone so quickly, it’s nice that she still believes!
Oh I have no idea what I’ll do! I honestly don’t ever remember asking my own parents when I was little. I just realized and never told them that I knew the truth since I had younger siblings. Hopefully my kids will do the same and let me off the hook! Haha it’s a tough one for sure!
Live from the Playroom says
Don’t cry, don’t cry. Seriously. Why does it go so fast! Love all of this and glad you’ll savor at least for another year, or three.
I don’t know if my youngest was more perceptive, or if we just weren’t any good at hiding it, but she knew there was no Easter Bunny by the time she was 2 or 3. Someone asked her about it and she said “My mom & dad give us the candy. I’m going to help pick it out” which was not a conversation we had ever had, I assure you. That child is 16 now and still entirely too smart for her own good.
I’m not even sure. Like yours, mine has a younger sibling. She still believes fully in everything, but some of her classmates are starting not to. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!
Jules Ruud says
Oh, boy! I have no idea what we are going to do. Our two-year-old knows that Santa says “ho ho ho” but hasn’t given these things much thought so we haven’t even thought how to approach it yet. I think we are putting it off because of that line between lying and the magic of childhood. I think you did just fine, though. She wasn’t ready to hear the truth yet and had you told her, the Eastee bunny wouldn’t be getting a letter.
I’m glad you came to a conclusion you’re good with! It’s hard to know what to do in those situations, but there really isn’t one right answer for every family. I hope you have a really fun and magical Easter 🙂
Herchel S says
My kids seem to want to believe. It’s a tough situation but in the end it comes down to how YOU feel about it! Have a Happy Easter!
Kathy Radigan says
I think you handled it really well. You never said, you let her decide how much longer she wanted to believe. I struggled with the same thing with my son last year. It’s hard for me to let go of the magic years of childhood. xo
Love this! I have been faced with this issue lately in our house as well. I love how you handled it and let your daughter lead the way. Great work, mama!
OK so I haven’t even had the talk like this with my 14 year old! I know she know the truth, but I just can’t do it. We talk about everything, but just not this. I can’t. Nope. Not yet. Maybe never.
I understand I couldn’t tell my son he asked me the same questions that your kid asked you I think you handled it perfectly I would hold on till she gets in the teens till you tell her my mom always told me that the Easter bunny was real because she wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on candy. She also said if you don’t believe in the Easter bunny you don’t get the candy
Kristen Hewitt says
Smart mom! Thanks for reading!
i’ve written a blog on this before… savor the magic – for sure!
She is really perceptive. My son is in someways, but not in others especially as it relates to gifts. He soaks up all the love the Easter Bunny, Santa and the holiday armadillo (“Friends” reference…did you see that one?) I would be relieved that you get one more year of her believing. Happy Easter. xoxo
Oh no! You really got all of the hard questions at once, didn’t you? I’m so glad she worked out a middle ground for now. And how sweet is it that she wanted to leave a gift for the bunny?
tove maren says
My kids seem to believe that the Easter bunny is real – because mama doesn’t poop candy… so that bought me some time!
This is so sweet. I just. Ant get on board with the whole mindset of “You are LYING to your children” when you talk about Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. Please. As if you’re emotionally damaging them or something. After I found out the truth, I never once resented my parents for “lying” to me. I would have been more upset I think if they’d deprived me of that childhood magic.
Crystal Renaud says
I loved this Kristen. You brought tears to my eyes. This is exactly why we “lie”, for them, for us and for the magic. I think you did the right thing!! Hugs mama and great job!
Jack Steiner says
We don’t do Easter or Christmas so I had this conversation early with my kids. At the time it made sense to me, especially because they were at a Jewish day school so I knew that the majority of the day would be with other Jewish kids.
But I remember the what felt like daily conversations of instructing them not to tell any kids in general.
My five-year-old was irate and told me if parents could lie about Santa they could lie about anything, like the tooth fairy.
I think my jaw hit the ground when he said that. I didn’t expect that to come out.
I’m going through this now with my nine year old. I have a feeling she knows something but is choosing to believe. I’ve decided to allow her to keep believing and when she’s ready to ask me about it I will tell her. I don’t think its a bad thing to allow your children to believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc. Society is full of things that cause our children to grow up way too fast. In my opinion, lets allow them to hold onto childhood beliefs as long as they can.
Kathy Radigan says
I love how you handled this. You never lied and you allowed her to hold onto it a little while longer. I always felt that the kid sets the pace and you respected this perfectly. But yes it’s such a bummer when they cross over to the non believer side of the street.