Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter! (late)

Gorden McLean has posted a very funny Easter cartoon, which reminds me of one of the cruellest things I ever did to a child.

It was Easter, and I was visiting some friends who had a four-year-old boy. This child was in love with rabbits, and had been since his first stuffed toy, which was a rabbit. 'Rabby' had been restuffed and re-covered so many times it was several generations away from the original stuffed rabbit, but this did not concern him because he didn't know. He just thought that Rabby took mysterious little overnight trips occasionally, and came back clean and plump.

It is difficult to overstate how much this child loved rabbits. He was so obsessed that every bedtime story ever read to him had to include a rabbit. If you read a story to him that did not include a rabbit, he would be outraged and want to know where it was, and couldn't sleep for worrying about it. It was easier to include a rabbit from the beginning. His parents were forced to adapt stories, so that he grew up with Goldilocks and the Three Rabbits, Beauty and the Rabbit, Snow White and the Seven Rabbits, and so on.

My friends lived in the countryside (this was in NZ) and I was staying with them for a few days. On one of these days we drove into town. The little boy sat quietly in the child seat in the back, clutching Rabby and generally behaving like a model child (by which I mean that he was so quiet we forgot he was there). While we were in town I happened to spot some chocolate Easter bunnies. The little boy also loved chocolate. I thought I would reward him for his patience on the long car trip and get him a small present.

I thought I was being kind when I bought him a chocolate Easter bunny. (Are you starting to understand why I don't have children?)

On the way home, the wee lad started getting a little restless. It had been a long, hot day, and it was a long drive. His mother was busy with the driving, so I leaned over to the back seat and told him I really appreciated how quiet and well-behaved he was being. I said I appreciated it so much I wanted to give him a present.

I gave him the present.

He opened the little box, and his face lit up. His expression was all I could have hoped for. He was overwhelmed with happiness. A RABBIT! It was a RABBIT! And it was CHOCOLATE!

It shut him up wonderfully. He went back to being a model child, and my friend and I went back to gossiping.

About twenty minutes later, in a lull in the conversation, we heard a small, anxious voice from the back seat:

"Do you think he will mind if I just lick his tail? Just a little bit?"

I turned around and saw that the boy was clutching his slowly melting chocolate rabbit up in front of his face and gazing at it with a perplexed expression. He was distressed by the decision facing him. I had never seen a child in a moral dilemma before, and knowing that I had caused it made it worse.

He ate the rabbit, eventually, but only because it had started to melt, and only after we assured him it was an eatable rabbit. It was made to be eaten, we said. It LIKED being eaten, we added desperately. But I don't think he was entirely convinced, and I don't think he enjoyed it as much as he usually enjoyed chocolate.

I am not entirely stupid. I learned something from the chocolate rabbit incident, and my next present was a better one.

The next time I visited I gave him fluffy moose slippers. I told him that these slippers were not properly trained yet and might make him trip up sometimes. And they might whisper and giggle to each other, but only when they thought nobody was listening. Also, I explained helpfully, they liked to go exploring at night, and because this was a new home for them they might not be able to find their way home to under his bed, so he'd probably have to hunt them down in the mornings. But he wasn't to worry because they were indoor creatures and would never go outside. He would find them in the house somewhere.

Sure enough, every night (that I was there) the moose slippers went missing, and every morning he had to search the house to find them. I also noticed him several times sneaking up on them trying to overhear what they were saying.

That was a much more successful present.

3 comments:

Ms Mac said...

Hiya!

Good Friday was on Friday, that's the day Jesus was crucified. Easter Sunday is tomorrow and is celebrated as the day Jesus rose from the dead. So really, the religious season starts on Holy thursday (Last Supper) and goes all the way through to the climax on Easter Sunday. I'm afraid it's more about chocolate for me though!

karma said...

what a lovely story. you should have kids - you would make a wonderful parent :))

Badaunt said...

Ms. Mac: THIS weekend? I should amend the title of this blog entry... but I can't be bothered.

I don't know why I thought it was last weekend.

Karma: I am good with kids when I only have to deal with them for two days at a time. Three days, max. I like kids I can give back. (Also, this particular child was a placid and well-behaved one. One of my brothers has kids I can only deal with for two days, max. The third day I start snapping.)