Every year at Easter I get this really stupid idea. Hey, I know, I'll take the kids on an Easter egg hunt. The reason this is a stupid idea is I naively think the rest of the world is like me. That they will be patiently waiting and politely saying excuse me when they get bumped. That they will listen to the instructions and not allow their six-year-old to go in the 0-3 group. That they won't elbow my toddler. Alas, I was sadly mistaken, again. But. There is hope.
So we are lined up and waiting to go for the first group, CJ's 0-3, and I explained to Kaiya that her turn would be next so she was to walk beside me but not pick up any eggs. She nodded. The countdown began and off we went. Between making sure she was with me and he wasn't getting run over we lost a lot of ground only to come up to where all the eggs had been and they were all gone. I wanted to let out a frustrated; how rude are you people? As many four, five, and even eight year olds went sailing past my baby with triumphant grins on their faces and over-flowing bags of eggs and their parents lazily strolled past us. CJ didn't get it at first but once he realized the point he started to cry. I was silently chastising myself for not having had the foresight to bring an extra egg for him. What was even worse was Kaiya was right there and quickly figured out the circumstance. She was frantically scanning for an egg for him and approaching genuine distress when she realized they were all gone. I started loudly exclaiming: oh, that's OK CJ, you tried really hard buddy and I'm sorry you didn't get any eggs. Many more people sauntered past us. How sad is that, and what is truly sad is they missed a chance to be sweet to a stranger. Kaiya exclaimed: "This is horrible!" I squatted down to explain to her that it was alright, that Easter was certainly about more than this, and was about to say we could go get CJ a treat later when the first nice soul stepped up. A grandmother winked at me and chucked an egg down right by CJ. Unfortunately the boy was looking off in the other direction and another child came running up and snatched it. Kaiya smacked her forehead in despair. Then. Then a sweet little boy who was about five, and while obviously going at the wrong time was still sweet, walked right up to CJ and plopped two eggs in his basket. My child broke out in the widest grin. I thanked them profusely and off we went.
Seeing that the line to exchange the eggs, as they were empty plastic shells, was extremely long and Kaiya's 4-6 turn was about to start I waited to turn them in. Kaiya was right at the front. We had only brought one basket thinking CJ was going first and they could swap but CJ would have none of it so I emptied out a grocery sack and Kaiya happily took it. I thanked her for being flexible and reminded her to not shove or fight over eggs and encouraged her to run fast. They had announced for this group that parents needed to stay back to make room for the kids. This had me a little leery in that the first batch people had listened so extraordinarily well to the directions that I was convinced we would be the only ones following the rules but I decided if anything we would follow the rules. CJ and I backed off a bit and I hoisted him up so he could see big sister Ya-ya and cheer for her. As I suspected once they started everyone else clamored after their kids and I resisted the urge to do likewise, knowing that with CJ in tow I likely wouldn't catch her anyway. She was fast. We ambled slowly with a small group of parents who had hung back and Kaiya came running up with her bag. "Five!" She declared and then she started to look sad and I gave her a high five and said "that's perfect, because you are five so I think that rocks." Smiling big we trudged back to the exchange line. Here was the kicker. Five. Two. Twenty-eight. It didn't matter. You turned them in and you got one treat bag. Some of the kids tried to argue with the sweet ladies handing out the bags. Some of the parents too. It seemed a good portion of the group was losing their minds and forgetting entirely that this was a free event, lovingly put on by the neighborhood association (OK, so maybe not free, but truthfully our dues are quite reasonable) and I was reminded again why we go to Easter egg hunts. To be a light in a dark, dirty world. But can I be honest? I hate letting my kids be lights in this world sometimes.
Later on at the petting zoo, also free (yes and bouncy houses too- my neighborhood rocks!), CJKaiya joined us and she lovingly would get CJ a bunny or a chicken to hold. I saw her offering a chicken to another little boy she didn't even know. As hard as it is to parent in a way that teaches my kids to show love in a harsh world it is worth it. Watching them get run over by others and encouraging them to show love back even still is even harder, but it's worth it. Don't get me wrong, when the eight-year-old in line in front of us kept running and jumping around and almost slammed into CJ I certainly asked him to watch out. After all I can only take so much. But I asked him kindly and I resisted the urge to hunt down his lazy, and I am pretty sure she was also slightly inebriated, mother and give her a piece of my mind. Instead I prayed for her, for whatever circumstance in her life that has her drunk by 10:30am and raising her son in such a way that makes me wonder if the poor child will wind up in jail someday.
Just before Kaiya's turn to go I had knelt down beside her and reminded her that Easter was about love. That God loved us and gave his son to die for us that we might have life. That the very best thing we could do today would be to show love to others. She nodded. When she held up her triumphant catch of eggs she also proudly told me "and I didn't shove or hit anyone!"
"Wow," I said, "that meant you were loving others huh?" "Yup." As hard as it is for me to fling them out into the dark world, wouldn't the Father feel this infinitely more? In some countries his children are getting thrown in jail for worshipping him. I think I can suck it up for an occasional empty basket and puffy blue eyes full of tears.