My daughter has always had a competitive streak. I'm not sure if it's nature or nurture…being blessed as the first born of two first born parents, first born grandparents and yes, even first born great-grandparents definitely explains a few of her personality traits. I guess that new parents just get excited about everything….new. My husband and I couldn't wait to start up family traditions with her, and one of our favorites involved Easter.
Both my husband and I came from families where Easter egg hunts were a big deal. We had very similar childhood experiences - we were required to dress in our best clothes, would drive to grandma and grandpa's house in the Bay Area, and would gather with our aunts, uncles and cousins in the backyard. The anticipation was huge…we knew there would be carefully hidden eggs, enough for everyone to fill at least one basket. If we were lucky and looked really hard, we could find something special, too.
When our daughter was born, we knew we wanted to re-create our childhood memories. For the first few years, it wasn't that exciting-babies and toddlers couldn't really rejoice in the vinegar egg dying process, and usually scream at the sight of a giant, hairy Easter bunny. However, by the time our girl was three-and-a -half, we were ready.
Easter morning in California is usually quite pleasant, and this year didn't disappoint. We dressed her in a beautiful homemade cotton print dress, put on her white eyelet socks and black patent leather shoes. She looked like she could march in the finest Easter parade in town. Instead, we went into the garden.
A few days earlier, we had routinely dyed hard-boiled eggs, and left them out the night before for the Easter Bunny to hide. But unbeknownst to our daughter, we had also hidden plastic eggs, just to increase the fun. And to make it even more exciting, we (I) stuffed the plastic eggs before putting them in the garden. Pennies, jellybeans, beads, stickers and small candies went inside most of them, but when I ran out of treats, I left those empty.
Our egg hunt began as it always did-mom, dad and grandma scurrying after her, video cameras in hand. We exclaimed in unison as she found each egg, and helped her fill her basket. Soon she realized that there were three kinds of eggs-those that were hard-boiled, those that were plastic and made noise when she shook them and those that were plastic and empty.
Even at three years old, her competitive streak was showing, and instead of placing each egg in her basket as she found it, squealing in delight, she began shaking each one violently. If the appropriate sound resulted, the egg went in the basket. If the egg was silent, it went over her shoulder back into the bushes.
While we dissolved into peals of laughter, she meticulously made her way around the garden searching for the egg-booty. When satisfied she had covered all the territory, she announced, "All done", and ran off into the house.
As a result, we found many discarded plastic Easter eggs in the garden that summer. Our attempt at starting a family tradition, however, was quite successful. Even now, our teenagers still prefer plastic to the real thing.
But pennies aren't so exciting anymore-thank goodness gift cards are too big!