Egg Hunting: The Hunger Games Edition

Apr 9 2012

Every year I’m a mom, I’m certain the Easter egg hunt can’t get any better.

From that very first time trying to convince my toddling Abby girl in her pristine, pressed Baby Gap dress, matchy-matchy bloomers and ruffle socks to amble toward the eggs that were littering the grass… to last year with myriad grubby kids (many of them mine) blithely elbowing siblings and cousins outta their way with nary a thought to the little people who could get hurt while they amassed personal billions in discount candy… every mental snapshot ups the ante.

You’d think after all these Easters, though, I’d learn that they can get better. Or, if not better, exactly (I mean, the way toddler Abby filled my heart up, up, up to overflowing is hard to beat), then certainly more relaxed, less stressful and one thousand times more hilarious.

But apparently I haven’t learned. Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and I am already worried about next year because it cannot get any better.

And it cannot get any better because of the diligent and dedicated work of the men in our family – my cousin Nayfan, my brother Jeff, and my husband Greg – who are single-minded in their determination to use egg hunting as a thinly disguised vehicle to deliver mental anguish to our oldest children.

Yesterday, after we shepherded the big kids into the house and threatened them with eternal dishwasher duty if we caught them peeking, the men started hiding eggs. And, by “hiding eggs,” I mean they spent half their time strategizing together about how to maximize big-kid torture and the other half of their time perfecting their egg-hiding one-upmanship.

Suspending golden eggs 20 feet high in a tree using only the egg, some string and a bolt?

This is the legacy MacGyver has on our entire generation. (And our parents said watching so much TV would rot our brains. Looks like you were WRONG, Mom and Dad! We were learning LIFE SKILLS.)

Outstanding egg placement, guys.

But when Nayfan and Jeff, in one of their joint planning sessions, uttered the words “Easter Egg Cornucopia,” I started to giggle. And then I laughed. And then I guffawed. Because visions of the Hunger Games danced in my head, and, let’s be honest: nothing’s better than pitting our children against each other in plastic, pastel egg fights to the death. Amirite? And Easter egg hunting is pretty much The Hunger Games anyway except with higher stakes, because – hello! – CANDY!

Clustering a group of eggs all together instead of spreading them out, just so we could watch the fallout? So, so brilliant.

And so, so mean.

The kids actually screamed with joy when they saw the pile.

And when we said, “Go!,” well, we could tell immediately which of our children we might want to let into our commune when the apocalypse occurs.

My wee, two-year-old nephew, for example? The one who was so distracted with the contents of his first egg that he couldn’t be bothered to grab the one right behind his head?

Yeah. Dude, we’re gonna have to have a talk. You’re, like, on probation for entrance to the future commune. I don’t want to have to come down on you that hard, buddy, but we’ve got family competition standards, ya know? And you were just, well, equal parts adorable and pathetic.

And to be perfectly honest with you, K-man, we’ve already got adorable and pathetic pretty well covered.

See? (Psst… I’m going to scoop these boys up and eat them for dinner.)

Now, a few kids put on a good show yesterday. Like my Aden girl who scaled the playhouse roof to bring down some eggs.

You’ve got some real potential, lady. Keep playing like you mean it.

But the kids who were the biggest players? Oh, man.

The twelve year olds brought it, y’all. My Ian boy and his same-age, girl cousin were the real contenders.

Right out of the gate, they were on that cornucopia faster than we could say, “May the odds ever be in your favor.”

They were scrappy. And focused. And determined. And brutal. And totally worth watching.

As was my Abby girl, who, at age 13, still ambled away from the eggs littering the grass, but this time with a clear strategy, collecting the easy pickings elsewhere while the others were distracted. Heh heh; that’s my girl!

I looked around my yard yesterday, filled with people I love, both big and little. They showed up wearing everything from flip flops and pajama pants to dresses and heels. My son rocked his 1970’s-style short-shorts. Kids clambered on roofs and wrestled in our patchy, ill-maintained grass and climbed spindly trees. The table wasn’t set for the  Easter dinner that I didn’t get into the oven until after folks arrived. And before the day was done, we were down 5 bandaids, 1 wineglass and innumerable plastic eggs.

It was just lovely.

If I’ve done anything right in my life, it is this: I’ve surrounded myself with people who are more concerned about relationships than appearances. Who are more eager to laugh than to complain. Who live love like it might be our last day on Earth. And who think that messy authenticity is very cleanest kind of air to breathe. And I’ll tell you, that has made all the difference.

At the end of the day, we were all tired and filthy.

And so, so joyful and victorious.

Happy Easter, everyone!
Beth