Growing up, my family always had an Easter egg hunt in our back yard – between myself and my 3 siblings there was a decent amount of eggs hidden in the yard. We also attended one public community wide Easter egg hunt at a local zoo every year. This is honestly the egg hunt that I have the most memories of. Divided by age groups, it was an all day affair for my family and we cheered each other on from the sidelines.
This year, I decided to take my 4 and 2 year old to a public egg hunt for the first time and to say I was shocked and overwhelmed would be an understatement.
There were 2 age groups: babies-4 years old and 5-7. The rules were everyone starts behind the line and when they say go, collect the empty eggs and then turn them in to a tent to collect your prizes.
Maybe I should share what I thought was going to happen. I thought they would say go, and parents would walk with their babies as their kids collected the eggs.
We waited behind the line, practicing patience as they stared at the eggs. And at the sound of “GO,” I was shocked at what unfolded. Parents literally scooped up their children and ran to the far end, hoping to beat the other parents and secure a clear spot for egg hunting. Parents picked up the eggs for their kids, quickly grabbing as many in sight to load up the basket.
My two year old didn’t stand a chance (he’s practically experiencing this as a first all over again as he doesn’t remember Easter when he was 1). I was verbally telling him to pick up the egg and put it in his basket, even pointing at an egg and then it would be snatched by another parent. When we did finally collect an egg, it fell out of his basket as he bent down to pick another one up and gone was his fallen egg, taken by someone else. It was difficult to keep track of my 4 year old simultaneously as everyone just walked everywhere, with no regard for the little kids. Literally from the time go was announced to the time it was over was less than 5 minutes – and there was plenty of grounds to cover.
While I was overwhelmed and shocked at what unfolded. The kids were generally excited with their few eggs and we made our way to the tent to collect a prize. Every kid, no matter how many eggs they collected would receive a prize. So why did the parents have to complete the egg hunt for the kids? I was overwhelmed so I can’t even imagine how my 2 year old felt who has no idea what’s going on. In line for prizes I was equally shocked. While several families did wait in line properly, other families started pushing their way forward, very clearly skipping in line.
What are we teaching our kids? That collecting the most eggs is the most important? That we shouldn’t be aware of others? We shouldn’t share eggs? That it’s ok for parents to be greedy? That we should skip in line? That the egg hunt is really more for the parents than an opportunity for kids to do, collect, learn and have fun?
Overall, it really made me reevaluate the thought of public Easter egg hunts. While there is a whole year to evaluate my feelings on this, maybe we’ll stick to Easter egg hunts at home.