North Texas Daily

My time and lessons learned as the Easter Bunny

My time and lessons learned as the Easter Bunny

My time and lessons learned as the Easter Bunny
March 30
09:00 2020

I describe my upbringing in the same fashion I introduce my mother’s personality to those unfamiliar: “Neurotics build castles in the air. Psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them.” She is a force of nature who manages to function amidst an environment of utter chaos while she maintains a sense of order and normalcy.

Growing up, this sense of normalcy was non-negotiable: what my mother says, goes. When presented with the choice of painting faces at the church Easter egg hunt or dressing up as the guest of honor himself, I chose the lesser of two evils. The option of sitting it out was not even a possibility, as my mom had Christian guilt down to a science. Thus, I began my four-year career dressing as an anthropomorphic rabbit every Easter.

I say “career,” but my tenure as Lord Cottontail was more of an unpaid internship in retrospect. While I started out working a typical church outing, demand for the rabbit soon grew into more secular settings, and I spent many Easter weekends hopping around different neighborhoods in the area. My duties varied depending on where I was working either presiding over egg hunts, crowd work, shaking hands or holding babies. I had all the trappings of a politician in a furry, snow-white package.

The costume was the worst part though. Where I grew up, Spring was more of a blanket term for hellish temperatures rather than a season. In addition to the boxers and tank top I wore under the suit, I kept a myriad of ice packs and put vapor rub under my nose to distract myself from the musky aroma of beer and menthol cigarettes from the previous renter.

What the job lacked in tangible pay, it made up for in smiles. I made parents laugh while their eager children ran up to me to talk about how happy they were to know that I was real. Seeing those beaming little faces made my heart full for the entire year. As the Easter Bunny, I was fiercely protective, even warning a smarmy middle-schooler to stop trying to rip my head off or else risk being rabbit punched. No one was going to ruin these children’s fun if I had anything to say about it, no one except the children’s parents that is.

Which then brings me to my least favorite part of the job, other than the suit. I wax on about the overjoyed children rushing up to meet me, but there were also quite a few children who were terrified of me to the point of tears. Yet, their parents would force them to take a picture with me for the sake of having a picture to send to all of their extended family.

Parents, guardians and other family members, I beseech you to knock it off. I don’t have children, but as former children, we need to respect a child’s boundaries in such a situation. As far as human knowledge goes, there are no known cases of buxom, 5’9” rabbits occurring in nature. Children have the right to be confused, if not a little scared by the sight of me. Parents must understand consent and physical boundaries are not matters exclusive to adults.

“The lessons people learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime and can influence how they feel about themselves and their body as they get older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your children about consent early on can help them understand their rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help,” according to developmental child psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald.

If you want to maintain open and effective communication with children, you must respect their boundaries like you would any other adult stranger on the street. If not, the lack of communication will lead to long-term complications in your relationship with them. Parents, let this Easter be a learning experience in your relationship with your child. Is it that big of a deal if your kid doesn’t want to take a picture with me because they’re scared of an enormous, bipedal rabbit? It is Springtime in Texas and I guarantee there are better ways to collect memories other than shoving your crying child onto my lap and snapping a photo to adorn Aunt Nick-Nack’s refrigerator.

Featured Illustration: Ryan Gossett

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Taylor Sealy

Taylor Sealy

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