Let’s talk egg hunts.
I started young. I was the egg hunt champion of Pine Bluff Arsenal (in the booming town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas) when I was four. I think I repeated in the five-year-old age group the next year, then crashed and burned before I could go pro. But I still love them and will don my bunny ears for a hunt any day.
I love Easter. There are a million reasons, but one of them is the sheer joy of hunting for eggs. Watch a group of kids go scrambling (ha!) for eggs and it’s impossible not to smile.
Unless you notice the parents.
That’s right. Mom, Dad, and other adults rain on the fun. Think I’m eggs-aggerating? Last year, the Pez Candy folks had to cancel their hunt due to the behavior of the adults. If you Google “egg hunt bad behavior,” you’ll find headline after headline about how parents have ruined hunts. Ever noticed how hunt organizers make announcements about parents staying on the sidelines? There’s a reason for that.
But I’m sure I’m not talking about you, right? You’d never be that way. However, let’s discuss egg hunt etiquette…
First, egg hunts are for children. Sure, if those eggs were filled with wine, tequila, or coffee, I’d understand why adults would go hardcore hunting for them. But they’re not. So step back and let the kids have some fun. Remember: they are plastic eggs filled with often inedible candy or trinkets that will entertain briefly, then be forgotten under the sofa/seat of the car, etc.
(Note on egg contents: Chocolate melts and attracts more animals/insects, but I won’t go into the “there’s a squirrel in my backyard with its head stuck inside a plastic Easter egg” call I had to make Animal Care Services, but I do wish I had video of said incident as it looked like he was wearing a little helmet. By the way, he managed to extricate himself AND eat the chocolate. I have the chewed egg to prove it.)
Second, egg hunts are NOT a competitive sport. There are no pro scouts looking for amateur egg hunt talent that might someday make the pros. And there are no colleges offering egg hunt scholarships. Therefore, I go back to point one: egg hunts are for children. They should have fun, even if that means watching butterflies or whatever else as they roam the field aimlessly. Don’t worry if their basket isn’t full. They had fun, and you have less inedible candy or trinkets to deal with.
Third, egg hunts are supposed to be fun. That means no shouting at your kids from the sidelines, no stepping over the ropes (installed to keep parents from ruining the fun) to bark directional guidance, and no sneaking in “just to help a bit.” If the hunt allows parents on the field, be mindful of little people and little fingers: no running them over or stomping on them. (I’m talking to you, the grown woman who mowed down my then three-year-old without a thought or apology, just to get to an egg at a local hunt. And no, we’ve never gone back to that event, but I do hope the Easter Bunny put nasty things in her basket.) And never, ever berate your kids over how they hunt. I once overheard a mother angrily telling her child, “You’re never going to find anything if you run around. You only found seven eggs!” I’d seen that kid having a blast in the field, enjoying the experience. But after her mother criticized her behavior, I didn’t see another smile.
Snapping some pictures of your kiddos = awesome. Laughing as their eggs fall out of their baskets as fast as they put them in = natural. Shouting directions and acting like a general commanding on the battlefield = not cool. Running over children or stepping on them in any way = criminal. Getting angry or yelling at your kids is just as bad. And remember, children mimic your behavior, so keep that in mind.
Finally, do not fall prey to the lure of the golden egg. You know the ones: they contain a slip of paper that often means a special prize of some sort. They’re not laid by Willy Wonka’s golden geese, nor do they contain a golden ticket that wins you the chance to meet Oompa Loompas. (If you’re not acquainted with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, please get the original movie—not the awful one with Johnny Depp—and enjoy it with your children ASAP.)
Golden eggs tend to bring out the worst in people. I’ve seen adults wrestling for them as if they were actual gold. Cutthroat hunting, grabbing, and fighting as they try to claim that golden orb of heaven (a prize basket or gift certificate). And I’ve seen parents berate their children for not hunting faster/getting to the golden eggs first. Yes, it’s wonderful to win a prize, but it’s not wonderful to make a full-on donkey of yourself in the process (also known as a “bad egg” in world of Willy Wonka). If your child finds a golden egg, congratulations. If they don’t, it’s not the end of the world.
So don’t be THAT parent. Take your kids to a hunt, stand back, and let them have fun. (Here’s a great list of some hunts going on in San Antonio.) Bring their baskets or some appropriate egg-gathering receptacle and take a million pictures. Cheer them on, even if they’re distracted by ladybugs. Don’t let any squirrels get stuck in eggs, and if you want to have your own hunt, I highly recommend including cascarones. After all, if there’s any time that cutthroat measures are called for, it’s when folks start crackin’ cascarones. Keep your head covered, run, and remember: the Easter Bunny is watching!