We got the little ones into bed on the night before Easter, and my eldest was still dressed and reading when his brothers had been dispatched to dreamland. He has known for several years now that Mum and Dad are the Easter Bunny, so I went into his room and offered him a choice: he could help me stuff and hide the Easter eggs (and get first dibs on the little Lego sets and action figures) or he could take part in the hunt in the morning with his brothers and wake up to all the surprises. Without skipping a beat, he said he wanted to help me. His first instinct was definitely to be in on the secret and part of the grown-up, behind-the-scenes action.
“Are you sure?” I asked. (I was, of course, asking, “Are you sure you want firmly to cross this threshold out of innocence and into adulthood, surrendering the joys of the surprise in exchange for the pride and privileges of age? Are you sure you don’t want to be my baby anymore?!” No pressure.)
“O.K. Go brush your teeth and then come upstairs and you can help me.”
When he came upstairs, before he came into my room and saw the Easter loot, I asked again, “Are you sure?”
And this time, he hesitated. A lot. He was really conflicted.
“I don’t know what to do. I want both.”
And there it was: his own confrontation with the downside to crossing over into adult privilege. He wanted the fun of hiding eggs for his brothers to find, but he also wanted the fun of the hunt on Easter morning. We compromised on his hiding just a few, and his Dad would hide the rest, some in places only he’d be able to reach.
And so he crossed a threshold of sorts, in a way that was most comfortable for him. If only all transitions to adulthood could be made with forethought, choice and the chance to inch into a new self.