Raising kids is one of the hardest jobs that there is. Everyday, is a different challenge, a new opportunity to teach and to learn. There are times however, when I struggle-I am at a loss as to what to do. It is at these times that I look for a role model. Someone who can guide me to finding the answers that I seek. It is times like these that I pull out the "big guns". I look to the person who has done it all. It is moments like this when I ask "What would Mrs. Brady do?"
I grew up watching "The Brady Bunch". In one half hour Mrs. Brady,( along with a little help from Mr. Brady and Alice the housekeeper) appeared to be able to solve any problems that her children faced. I often wonder what she would have done if one of "The Bunch" were on the spectrum. I think that it would have made for some fascinating television. Imagine, the school calling because Jan refuses to sit anywhere but under her desk? Or, Marcia's date arrives to find Bobby spinning and flapping in the living room? What sage words would Carol Brady have? How would she explain things to everyone's satisfaction?
I was pondering this the other night as I was putting the kids to bed. It was the night before Easter, and they were all excited. That is, everyone but Sammy. Sammy is terrified of the Easter Bunny. This fear goes all the way back to when he was eighteen months old. It was a few weeks before Easter and we were out shopping at the mall. When seemingly out of nowhere, a man with a GIGANTIC paper mache bunny head jumped out in front of us. I have, to this day, never heard Sammy scream so loud nor saw him move so fast. He flung himself on top of me-clinging and clawing his way up my body. I think that he was trying to get back into the womb.It took him months to calm down. Needless to say, he has been wary of the Easter bunny and any other character with a large head ever since. ( because their faces don't move.) This bunny phobia was not a problem at first. We simply didn't celebrate Easter. Now that I have three more children, one of whom is very aware of all that Easter can be.(.i.e. unlimited candy for the day ) I have no choice but to acknowledge it. At the same time-I had to make it acceptable for Sammy.
I tried to explain to him that I was the Easter bunny. That I bought the candy and set it out in baskets while he was sleeping. He interpreted this as meaning that I went and picked up the candy from the Easter bunny. He literally thought that I met the bunny in a secret location outside of the house and brought home the baskets. He believed me to be brave. This went on for years, and I admit(sigh), I did not try to persuade him otherwise. I was having way too much fun imagining what such an adventure would look like.....
I always pictured it as a covert maneuver. I would go outside-at midnight, dressed all in pastels. The night would be silent and still...I would stand in the middle of the street and light a cigarette with shaking hands...nervously waiting. In the distance, I hear the sound of floppy feet moving in my direction...I look up, and there standing in the moonlight, in all his cotton tailed glory, would be the Easter bunny. He gazes at me with his steely pink eyes...the wind gently blowing his enormous bow-tie. This, is a bunny who has seen things. He says nothing as he passes me the basket-and with a nod of the head and a flip of the ears, he is gone. Only the basket in my hands and the sound of hopping in the distance, prove that he had really been there. I walk quickly back to the house thinking-"Just who IS that mysterious lagomorph..and whats with the eggs?"
This year, things were different. Sammy was more nervous than usual. He startled at every noise.."Was that the Easter bunnies car?"..."He doesn't drive buddy-his feet are too big"..."I think I hear him on the roof!" "Sammy, he can't jump that high...and besides, you know that I won't let him in the house.." "Maybe he snuck in...maybe he's upstairs!!!" "No buddy-I promise he is not." Our conversation went on in this vein for a while. I felt that I had no other choice but to tell him the truth...explain it so that he could understand. I said "Sammy...can I tell you a secret?...You have to promise that you won't tell your brother or sisters.." He agreed. "Buddy, there is no Easter bunny. I buy the candy at the store, I buy the baskets, I hide it in my closet until you are asleep. Then I bring it downstairs....O.K.? Does that make you feel better?" His relief was palpable. I asked him if he was alright with this...if he wasn't a little disappointed,,that even though he was afraid, the fantasy wasn't real. He looked at me and said " It's o.k. mama, I never wanted to see that big headed freak again anyway." He rolled over and promptly went to sleep.
We had a wonderful Easter. The girls, stuffed themselves with chocolate...the boys, ate frozen pizza. I averted a crisis-and all without the help of Mrs. Brady. Although I do wish Alice were around, my house could use a good cleaning.