Easter is just days away and our largely secular country is preparing to celebrate, although exactly what I am not sure.
Some believe Easter symbolises the resurrection of Jesus. Some say it's a spring festival named for a goddess called Eostre, despite falling as another wet and cold eight months loom ahead of us here in New Zealand.
Whatever your bent, Easter is celebrated by copious amounts of chocolate. That we all seem to be able to agree on.
But Easter, like Christmas, brings about a decision-making process for parents that should be about more than just deciding which sub-par chocolate monstrosity will be presented to the kids and how to handle how quickly it's consumed.
Most parents blithely perpetuate the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus myths with little to no regard for the fact that they are lies. If I've just dropped a big spoiler to you then I apologise, but I just can't go along with it. I know I'm swimming against the tide, but hear me out.
So, what are the pros of the Easter myth?
Leverage for good behaviour
Bribery can start months out. Keeping track of incidents and encouraging kids to send letters, emails, and phone calls to "Santa" gives them an extra incentive to brush up on their behaviour. The threat of no gifts or chocolate is a heavy one, but has anyone actually followed through? It'd be quite the lesson in consequences.
These characters encourage imagination
Small kids love imaginary characters. I had forgotten mermaids and unicorns even "existed" until recent years and you could argue that the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are all extensions of imaginary characters.
But there are some cons:
We are lying to our kids
Parents are willingly and openly lying and using fictitious characters to bribe children into behaving, or because they haven't considered a conversational alternative. Kids should use their manners and behave well, but we're all prone to bad behaviour at times, and it's an expected part of being a kid.
How does the conversation go when a parent is approached in later years about why children get in trouble for lying about who upended the red paint on the sofa versus it being okay for parents to lie to their children?
Interpretations of what's appropriate differ
This was brought to my attention recently, when a friend pointed out that Santa gifts can come with big feelings and hard conversations.
When a child from one family gets an iPad from Santa, and one from another family gets a puzzle, or kids who don't eat sugar get cash or other gifts to compensate for a lack of chocolate, children who believe in these characters feel like they aren't as loved by Santa or the Easter Bunny because their gift isn't as extra as their friend's.
This hadn't occurred to me, but it is valid and it brings about more difficult conversations for parents to navigate.
It creates more work for us as parents
It's just more banal conversation we need to engage in about things that don't exist and that create more work for us. I love my child, but we have enough of these conversations already.
Now, quickly pass me another chocolate egg while I read all the outraged comments rolling in.