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Differentiating between real and pretend is a big part of paren

March 25, 2005|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

"Mommy, when will the Easter bunny come?" my 6-year-old asked as we were driving home from church last Sunday.

We had just spent two hours learning about Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Bible tells that crowds of people waved palm branches at him and cheered, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord."

We heard how Jesus' friend Mary poured an expensive ointment on his feet, symbolizing that his body would soon be placed in the tomb.

I expected my little one to have questions about the ointment. "What is ointment, Mommy? Perfume? What do you think it smelled like?"

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I also expected her to have Palm Sunday-related questions. "Why did that man allow Jesus to take his donkey? Why didn't Jesus just walk into Jerusalem? Why did the people wave palm branches?"

And while those questions might have been lingering in her mind, they never made it to her lips.

She just wanted to know about the Easter bunny. She giggled as she asked if the Easter bunny did his own shopping. I wanted to say, "No. His wife does it for him." Instead, I asked what she thought.

"Oh, Mommy, how would he get to a store?"

Indeed.

I don't want to dash her wonder. At the same time, I'm not going to tell her a lie. When she asks a question, I either answer it or ask her a question in return so she can ponder it for herself.

I guess I should have expected some questions about bunnies. We dodge the little critters each time we drive back the lane to our house. They're very quick, and I'm very slow. This combination is very good. We don't want to cause any injuries to our cottontail friends.

We've also noticed the abundance of bunny decorations in yards, on windows and at stores.

My daughter said she can hardly wait until the Easter bunny makes his deliveries. I asked what she would like to find in her basket.

"Some eggs. Not the real ones, the fake ones that you can open. They have candy inside."

I was mentally making a shopping list, so I probed a little further and asked what kind of candy she hoped to find in her eggs.

"Chocolate."

No elaborate demands. Just simple childlike wishes.

I like to encourage that innocence in my children. I want them to hope, to dream, to wish, to fantasize. As we consider the "what ifs" in life, the discussion often turns to the difference between what is real and what is pretend. They mostly just want a truthful answer about why things are the way they are.

This afternoon while we're dyeing Easter eggs, I'll talk to my children about why eggs are used as a symbol for Easter. Spring is here. Life is brand-new.

I'll also remind my children why our family celebrates Easter. For Christians, the holiday symbolizes the new life Christ gives us because he died on the cross in our place. My goal is to gently guide them in the principles of the Christian faith.

Sunday morning, when my children wake up, their Easter baskets will be waiting for them. They'll have some candy and then we'll go off to church. Later we'll have a little Easter egg hunt.

There will be more questions, perhaps some of a serious nature. That's just fine. I'm hoping that if I give the right answer, they'll share some chocolate with me.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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