APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS

AN UNFORGETTABLE EASTER                             

          The lawn surrounding the American Legion Hall is filled with children searching for brightly colored eggs hidden among the flowers, shrubs and behind trees. A gentle breeze spreads wafts of fragrance from freshly cut blades of grass, warmed by the sun. Laughter and sporadic shouts of “I found one!” fill the air as boys and girls scamper everywhere. 
          This is my first big Easter egg hunt!  I’m not comfortable with all the noise and activity.  I glance at my mother, cradling my baby sister in her arms as she chats with Aunt Faye.  The urge to wrap my arms around her legs and hide behind her skirt returns.  I fight it by reminding myself, I’m a big sister now, almost five.
Wishing for the protective nearness and comfort of Daisy, my black cocker spaniel, I turn around, hoping to see a familiar playmate.  Where is Libby, my cousin?  Did Mary come today?  I notice Daddy watching me from the small circle of men nearby.  He nods his head at me, smiles and winks. Returning his grin and blinking both eyes back at him, I join the search, determined to fill the yellow basket on my arm.
It’s not as easy as it looks!  A lot of the kids’ baskets are already filled with rainbow colored eggs!  I think there is something yellow behind that tree root!  I reach for the treasure and tuck it into my basket.  Yes!  I can do this! 
The sun grows warmer.  Searching in places where I might hide one, I spot something blue behind a purple flower and run toward it.  An older boy rushes ahead of me, grabs the blue egg, then jumps around, waving it in the air for everyone to see!
By the end of the hunt, there are four eggs in my basket – one for each year of my age.  My cousin and I count our eggs together.  Libby hasn’t found many either, but we had fun!
A man wearing a soldier hat stands on the porch in front of us.   He gives a chocolate bunny to the big boy who found the most eggs.  A large chocolate egg is given to the big girl who found the most!  Everybody claps.  I like this part too! I’ve learned how to hunt eggs and might find enough at the next Easter Egg Hunt to win a prize.
I hear my name and look up at the man with the prizes.  Why did he call my name?!  Mother takes my hand and pulls me toward the front of the crowd.  “This prize is for the little girl who found the least eggs, but tried hard.”  The man hands me a plastic bunny filled with small, round, brightly colored candies.  Everyone claps again.  I know Libby tried hard too; why didn’t she get a rabbit with candy in it?  I wish Daisy were with me!
It’s late now.  We ate hamburgers for supper at Libby’s house.  Then she and I sat on the porch, sharing my candy.  We heard laughter when Daddy said that Mommy bought my plastic rabbit and asked the man in the soldier hat to give it to me so I wouldn’t feel left out!  Libby took my hand, smiled and thanked me for sharing with her.  I told her that I like playing with her better than getting a plastic rabbit.
I recall only snippets of other childhood Easters.  Most of those involve dipping eggs in bright colors and favorite candies.  I’ve learned that my mother often felt inadequate as a child.  Logically, she wanted to protect me from similar occurrences.  Ironically, I didn’t experience being “different from others” until I was awarded the plastic bunny.
April showers help enable seeds and plants to flourish.  Disappointments and difficulties provide opportunities to teach children good coping skills that, when practiced, enable the development of neural networks for coping behaviors that can serve them well throughout life!  Overly protective parenting tends to contribute to less helpful coping abilities.

In the above incident, I felt sad about my limited collection of eggs only after my mother acted to protect me from a logical outcome.  A better parenting strategy might have involved talking with me in a compassionate, but encouraging manner as follows:  

“Carolyn, I saw you looking for me before the hunt.  I wonder, did you feel shy at first?  Hmm, you say you did feel shy.  That makes sense to me; trying something new in front of strangers can be scary to me also.  But you seemed to have a lot of fun after you began hunting for the eggs.  I think you are a good Easter egg hunter, especially for your first time.  I am so proud of you!  Tell me something you learned about finding eggs today!  Then tell me two things that you really enjoyed!”

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