Our family Easter egg hunt last year inadvertently showcased the very different parenting styles of my relatives. My house won the rights to host Sunday lunch and as I have a small quiet park at the end of my street I decided the Easter Egg hunt could take place at this picturesque location. Unleashing 12 eggs-tremely keen cousins on this park made it anything but picturesque for a fast fifteen minutes of furious egg collecting, but it wasn’t the kids who were in heated and uncomfortable discussions, it was the parents as we negotiated what would be a fair hunt.
Millie was only 3 and was pretty much petrified of the big old Easter Bunny so it was my first time as a parent orchestrating an egg hunt and I had no idea there were rules to this magical moment. As the parents and kids descended on the park talk turned to hunt rules and making the collection fair and I started to wonder if it was an ALF game I was about to referee. Suggestions came thick and fast and all seemed reasonable, but for some reason didn’t sit comfortably with me. Suggestions like. • Big kids have a 5 minute handicap before they can start so that the littler children have a chance before the older ones with more searching skills swoop. • Each big kid to be partnered up with a smaller one so they can search together and share. • Create a base and each child to return to it once they had collected 5 eggs and stay until all the kids have returned and then set out again • Or it doesn’t matter how many eggs you collect, at the end they will all be shared out evenly despite who got the most on the day. Whilst I understood the motivation to be that no one child would miss out, or one have more than the other and to learn the art of sharing, mean old me decided as the umpire of the egg hunt I didn’t want to create an egg welfare system. It was going to be a free for all and who ever had the most won. My split decision motivation being ‘that’s life!’. There will always be someone bigger, faster, better and with more and even this hunt could be a lesson in life for our offspring. Not only that, but big kids eat more chocolate and each child would naturally collect the amount appropriate for their consumption size. AKA I didn’t want Millie eating her body weight in chocolate and then dealing with the toddler sugar high and nightmarish low.
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Easter spam still coming at you! She was so cute discovering her little egg bounty, but was quite upset that the EB didn’t eat all his carrot… Must remember that for next year.. A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on
My egg hunt style revealed that I fall in the category of parent that hate’s a gift in every wrapping of pass the parcel, not keeping the score in a 5 year olds soccer match, or kids getting certificates of participation when they came dead last. I want to arm my child with the reality of life, to learn resilience, to be happy with what they have, or work harder next time. Other parents in my group wanted to all hold hands and sing kumbaya…..or teach the art of sharing and learning to be fair. At the end of the day we all agreed that both were important lessons to learn but it was what unfolded during that egg hunt that surprised and delighted us all. With no rules in place at all the kids went hell for leather, but the big kids stopped and helped, and all of them shared at the end anyway. Sometimes we just don’t give our kids enough credit and we should.
Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.
This piece originally ran in Bmag here: