One of our longstanding Easter traditions is the egg hunt. This is true of many families with children. Only problem is, I no longer have children in the sense of having “children,” i.e., beings of great youth, smallness, inexperience and pliability in the face of random parental dictates. I still have children in the sense of having self-ambulatory, independent offspring, two of them recognized by the state as adults, but I no longer have the sort that holds still for diapering.
Anyway. The egg hunt. My youngest is now 14, and I wasn’t sure he’d be up for the usual race around the brown grass and bushes in our back yard, but I didn’t want to disappoint the fellow, either. I wanted to give him the option. So the day before Easter I bought those cheapo plastic eggs and the only remaining seasonal bagged candy left on the shelves, i.e., little malted milk balls and tiny ovoid butterfingers.
Easter day, while I was cooking and cleaning and screaming and flinging cast iron pans around the kitchen, I asked my daughter Jeanne to fill the aforementioned eggs with the aforementioned candy. She’s an adult, so I knew she was capable of this complex task. And not only was she capable, she came back to me about 10 minutes later with a startling innovation: “Mom,” she said, “this year, let’s do an egg hunt for the grown-ups.” She pointed out, and wisely so, that her dutiful teenage brother probably didn’t want to search for eggs while 13 other people watched. “He’s too old for that. So we’ll hide them. You guys can hunt for them,” and by “you guys” she meant all available relatives who fall within the boomer demographic and had not taken part in an actual, valid, run-around-the-lawn Easter-egg hunt for several parched decades of sad paschal deprivation.
When the time came, the grown-ups were beckoned into the back yard, front yard, street and sidewalk, where my clever young progeny had squirreled away shiny plastic vessels in devilishly sneaky hidey-holes. I’ve always been terrible at such things and only found two eggs, both thanks to my son and his theatrically resonant throat-clearing. (“MOM. AHEM. AHEM,” he said, bouncing on the cracked plastic base of a basketball hoop. “MOM! MOM! AHEM! MOOOOM!” At that third AHEM and fourth MOM, I noticed the egg within.)
The candy, once I cracked it open and sampled it, was awful. But the real pleasure lay in watching everyone scatter across the grass and the pavement, peeking under bike helmets, poking noses gingerly in bushes, all of us old farts behaving for all the world like the eager children we once were — and, I guess, still are. My three offspring followed us around, laughing at the spectacle of middle-aged hunters and huntresses in pursuit of precious booty. At the end we clutched our plunder to our chests, grinning. We’d found it. The kids had given us the freedom to be kids again.