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Volume 15, Issue 15 ~ April 12 - April 18, 2007

Grandpop Believes in the Bunny

But granddaughter knows no bunny wears shoes

Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.

John Dryden: Imitation of Horace, 1685

It had to happen, the magic of innocence flee, but why so soon? Why now?

When Easter dawned up here in Northern Anne Arundel County, and the first chimes from the steeples sounded, Grumpy was already awake. The day is second only to Christmas to a five-year-old.

The Easter Bunny is right up there behind jolly old St. Nick.

Grumpy, a.k.a. Mackenzie Noell Boughey, raced excitedly downstairs. What had the world’s most famous and beloved Leporidae bought her on this very special day?

There it was, a basket loaded with sufficient sweets to elicit a gasp from her dentist, who’d rather this particular perennial long-eared creature go the way of the passenger pigeon. Dentists, being adults, have memories too short to recall the ecstasy of the first bite of the ears of a chocolate bunny. They think only of teeth.

Breakfast can wait. There’s much else to discover in the basket. After church adorned in a new gown, there’s the stop at Grandmom and Grandpop’s house, where like Santa Claus and the stocking the bunny has left her another filled-to-the-brim basket.

Ah, the innocent faith of a child; both the Easter Bunny and St. Nick come only once each year, but they never forget where little girls romp. If they’ve been good, one never knows how many baskets will have their names on them.

Each basket renews faith in the generosity, even the existence, of the fabled rabbit.

After church — where a young girl is getting old enough to begin to grasp another significance of the day — there’s brunch at Maryland Yacht Club, where the Easter Bunny has also left some goodies, the traditional Easter egg hunt, then an appearance of Leporidae himself. Shrieks erupt as the big white bunny invites them for a cuddle. Why with those long ears he’s bigger than Daddy, bigger than life itself and as chummy as Santa.

Innocent, But Not Clueless

Back at Grandpop’s and Grandmom’s, the bombshell explodes. “The Easter Bunny must be sick,” says Grumpy.

“Why?” asks Grandpop.

“Because a man took his place,” answers the golden-haired granddaughter.

“You’re fooling me,” said I. “There’s only one Easter Bunny.”

“Well, I saw part of a man’s shoe sticking out, so the Easter Bunny must be sick.”

Slow Down the Clock

My heart sunk as deep as that of some poor child whose home the bunny had missed. Was a smidgen of doubt incubating in the mind of this little girl still young enough to chat with and hug Jack and Pengwee, her stuffed dog and penguin?

Horrors! Will Santa Claus be the next to be challenged by an innocent girl who turned five only a few months back? Wife Lois and I, also her parents Heather and Jon, were looking forward to at least another year of the magic of a bunny that could fill millions of baskets and a jolly red-suited man who could do the same with stockings.

Oh, for the good old days when the fantasies of children thrived longer, when kids were not rushed toward adulthood in a world where the byword is grow up, get a head start on life, be prepared better and earlier to cope with the challenges ahead. Learn quickly, be smart, succeed. Such thinking is in the homes, schools, churches, everywhere.

Should not, I ponder, the age of innocence and magic continue a tad longer? One is a child but once — and only briefly. Then comes a structured life of schedules, studies, organized sports, rules, homework and reality.

Think back, dear reader; are not our most cherished memories those of carefree days of innocence when magic could turn clouds in the skies to dinosaurs or fish — and the sight of the first star of the evening would grant the greatest wish? Then we grew older, wiser and encountered reality. Some ask why the cuddly little kitten can’t always stay cuddly and little. Others, including this writer, ask why can’t an innocent and carefree child remain just that — at least for a bit longer.

Why the hurry to, as some word it, adult childhood? These days there can be 10 times as much life spent as an adult with all its challenges and worries than as a child young and innocent enough to think every day is a day to romp and play.

White Lies Make Shining Memories

Methinks growing up is not the only bane of today’s childhood magic. Well-intentioned parents and even classmates have their fingers in the pie. When, not if, will some older student at Gibson Island Country School, where Grumpy is in pre-kindergarten, scoff at the suggestion it really wasn’t the Tooth Fairy that left change in exchange for her first lost baby tooth? Or that the Mickey Mouse she breakfasts with each year in Disneyland is like the Easter Bunny with that man’s shoe showing?

Some parents believe it’s best to stay strictly with the truth in raising their children, no white lies about magic bunnies and rotund men in red. I’m glad my mother wasn’t among them. I’m in my 80s, and my most precious moments come when I think about Easter and Christmas during the Great Depression. The older one gets, the more those memories embellish life.

So in these good times, why don’t we bestow on children more time to collect more memories to recall in the future? They will forever thank us for it. Enough said.

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