We had a ridiculously busy day yesterday which included an early morning softball game, a trip to the movies with the cousins, a 6 year-old birthday party and dinner with old friends. All the makings of a fabulous, but busy Saturday.
Let me just say: I think we're usually pretty good parents. I mean, we're not perfect, but our kids are usually well-behaved (except for Jude's incessant public burping lately), obedient, kind and sweet. They are compassionate and friendly and we just think they are the cutest things alive. We try really hard to be good parents...but yesterday made me question any parenting skills that I may have thought we had.
After seeing "Hop" yesterday, I was a bit annoyed at the emphasis on the Easter Bunny (I don't know what I was expecting) and the fact that there wasn't even the tiniest mention of Jesus being the real reason for Easter. I know, it wasn't the point of the movie, but we've worked very hard with our kids to make sure they know the real story behind Easter, but still allowing a bit of the "Easter Bunny fun" to be around. We do the same thing with Christmas and the kids know that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, but Santa is still a part of the fun - although he is downplayed a lot. The thing is, we've worked really hard to keep the Easter Bunny and Santa alive - even had Santa write a thank-you note to Noelle for her thoughtful cookies and apologizing for the mess his boots made outside of the fireplace. We roll like that.
In my annoyance at the Easter Bunny movie, I may have let it slip at an inappropriate moment that the Easter Bunny wasn't real...I was annoyed and only half paying attention...AND it was about the 10938398th time that Noelle had asked if the Easter Bunny was real in the past couple of months. I took that as a sign that she was having her doubts and I may as well just set her straight, after all she is EIGHT and that might as well make her an adult, right? I WAS SO VERY, VERY, VERY WRONG. More wrong than I could have ever imagined.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake. I wished with every ounce of my being that I could suck those words right back into my mouth. Gavin just sat there in awe and/or shock. Dumbfounded, maybe? I don't know, he mostly sat in silence letting me deal alone with the mess I was making.
I think the sequence of events went something like this:
*Noelle stares at me blankly in shock.
*Tears well-up in her eyes.
*She loudly says, "YOU LIED TO ME! WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME?" in the saddest, most dramatic voice ever.
*Holding back tears, I try to convince her that I am sorry for lying AND Easter is about Jesus AND the Easter bunny is just for fun AND we'll still give her candy and hide eggs and pretend there's an Easter bunny AND what would she do if she was a parent?
*This does not go over well.
*Noelle asks if Santa is real.
*Starting to panic I inform her that of course, Santa is real. We would only lie to her about a bunny who brings eggs, but never about Santa.
*I start to wonder what the heck I'm talking about.
*Noelle refuses to talk to us as tears flow freely down her face.
*I am a horrible mother.
*Gavin is still mostly silent.
(Did I mention this is all happening in the car?)
*Upon arriving home, Gavin and I have a short conference and Gavin believes we should "rip the entire bandaid off" and tell her that Santa isn't real either just to get it all over with. Why not?
*We both lay down with Noelle and Gavin gently starts to explain the story of St. Nicholas and how he was a great man, but Santa is not real.
*While sobbing, Noelle says, "I wish you never told me!" "Why did you lie to me?" and tells us that she always asks if Santa and the Easter Bunny are real because she loves to hear us tell her that they are.
*I begin questioning every decision that I've ever made as a parent.
*Noelle informs us that she believes that we are the crazy ones who don't believe anymore and that we are just imposing our lack of faith on her.
*Noelle cries more.
*Trying to figure out a way to travel back in time to take it all back, I desperately and silently mouth the words to Gavin, "Can we tell her we were joking?"
*Gavin pauses for a few seconds and then sheepishly blurts out, "April Fools?"
*Noelle stops crying.
*In awe that this desperate ploy might actually work, I awkwardly say, "We were just joking!" and explain how we had forgotten to play an April Fool's joke on her and this was it.
*Noelle bursts out laughing like I have never heard before in my entire life.
*Gav and I stare at each other in disbelief.
*Noelle tells us what a bad joke that was and she is so relieved that it was just a joke and to never, ever do that to her again.
*Don't worry, we won't. EVER.
*Gav and I head to our bedroom and close the door contemplating whether we've just ruined our child or not.
*Still not sure.