How to Respect Your Kid’s Intelligence and Ruin Easter All at the Same Time

Early one Easter morning, my older son crawled into my warm bed with my husband and me. He was about four years old at the time.

“Mom,” he said, waking me. “I found my Easter egg basket and Dan’s too.”

I snapped awake and started to say “Happy Easter,” but he stopped me with quite a serious expression.

Out tumbled a gush of words: “You know what I think? I think the Easter Bunny didn’t come at all, and I think you went to the store and bought all our favorite candy and that green stuff for grass, and you hid all the wrappers, and you figured out where you could hide our baskets, and you hid mine in one place, and you found an easy place to hide Dan’s ‘cause he’s little, and then you went to bed, and I woke up and found them.”

The time had come, several years earlier than I would have guessed. I had always felt conflicted about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and all the other lies many of us tell our children. I decided that I would tell my kids the truth when they asked.

So I looked straight into my smart, earnest, rational son’s eyes and nodded. “Yes.”

My smart, earnest, rational son’s reaction?

He burst out crying, shouting, “You’ve been lying to me for years!”

Awkward descriptions of tradition and the magic of childhood did little to cheer him up.

When his sobs subsided, he asked, “So if you’re the Easter Bunny, does that mean that Daddy is Santa Claus?”

My resolve to respect his rationality and meet frank questions with the truth had weakened significantly.

“Let’s save Santa Claus for another talk.”

I hugged him and told him not to tell his little brother. The conspiracy continued.

[At least I wasn’t like any of these parents: Misbehaving Parents Ruin Easter Egg Hunt]

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About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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43 Responses to How to Respect Your Kid’s Intelligence and Ruin Easter All at the Same Time

  1. Cindy Brown says:

    That’s funny! But I bet it wasn’t at the time, though. That’s how a lot of my posts are too. Thank goodness I can laugh about things later. I got caught as the Tooth Fairy by my waiting child when she burst out from under the covers with a flashlight aimed right at the eyes. I was caught. And blinded. What could I do, but fess up? I was almost sad the charade had ended, but at the same time relieved.
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  2. Rahmath says:


    But I respect him so much. He was only 4 at that time and he figured it out!!!
    Is he still the same? Does he surprise you still with his questions or observations ???

  3. I remember feeling completely betrayed when I found out about Santa Claus, which is why my girls have always known that it’s the parents who do Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. They’ve never let on to any other kids, though — they understand not to interfere in the rituals of other families.

    Over the years, the girls have had fun filling each other’s stockings on Christmas Eve, trying to stay awake after they’ve lost a tooth (they like to try to catch me), and participating in egg hunts and the like. I don’t think they’ve missed out on anything.

    This is the kind of quandry every family has to figure out for themselves, of course. I’ve known kids who weren’t upset at all when they found out the truth about Santa, etc.
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  4. I think I squirmed out of that one with “Well, what do YOU think?” when my son was beginning to have questions. That way, he let me know when HE was ready to know The Truth. (Which was another couple of years. In some ways, I think I got played.)

    I read a study somewhere that it does NOT permanently scar children or lead to a sense of mistrust by letting them believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc., until THEY are ready to let it go. You handled it well, IMO.
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    • Marcy says:

      Ha ha, I think my younger one “believed” for much longer than he really did. If candy is involved, he’ll figure out an angle. 🙂

  5. Amber says:

    I don’t think my parents ever encouraged myths about Santa and the Easter Bunny… they did do the tooth fairy, but we are a fairy sarcastic family so I’m pretyt sure when I was about seven, the conversation went something like “You lost a tooth! Hide it under your pillow for the tooth fairy!” … “Oh yeah, but Dad better give me more than a nickel this time!” 😛

    Sounds like your son will make it through, though. 🙂 Happy Easter!
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  6. Oh dear! I think you were wise to leave the issue of Santa till later! I enjoyed reading your post as I had a very similar, but different, experience with my son when it came to Santa (Father Christmas over here). He kept asking awkward questions, prompted by a very undiplomatic advertisement he heard on the radio which really gave the game away. As he was almost 11, I asked him if he ‘really wanted to know’. He assured me he did – and so I very gently explained the truth. He was so upset with me for my honesty, and said insisted he would rather I had lied! Now he is 19, we smile about it, but he was upset with me for ages!
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    • Marcy says:

      Yes, I was glad I waited on Santa. By the time Christmas came that year, he said he was “ready” to know, and he had known before I told him. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I love this post. We’ve still got one little “believer”, so I had to watch what I wrote! Such a heart wrenching topic!

  8. May says:

    My sister was so devastated by the Santa thing that she could never bring herself to be anything but upfront about all the holiday friends. But I kind of enjoyed the thought of a mysterious bunny leaving those baskets.
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  9. Pingback: Is it important for your kids to believe in The Easter Bunny, Santa and Fairy Friends? | Premeditated Leftovers

  10. Alea Milham says:

    Aww, poor little guy. Sometimes, we really don’t want to know the truth. 🙂

    I just linked up my story of my daughter figuring out the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy.
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  11. Jessica says:

    Poor guy, I was trying to explain the process of losing a tooth to my kids the other day and they were completely horrified. They kept pushing in their teeth all day afterwards. Apparently my explanation was too graphic. Oops.

  12. That was a true parenting moment. I think different children are more skeptical from the get go. Others just play along for the fun and presents. And others still really believe. Our oldest sounds like your son. By age three he wasn’t buying it.
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  13. emily says:

    I won’t be approaching this for awhile, and when it comes time, I’m sure I will royally screw it up!

  14. Abby says:

    Aha! Smart kid!

    It’s precisely this reason that we never went a long with any of these stories – what happens when they find out the truth?! We used to get the kids Easter hotwheels – from wal mart, not a bunny. Lose a tooth? Turn it into me for a dollar (as reward for us not having to pay the dentist to do it). Santa? He’s just a cute story for Christmas. Oh, and don’t tell the little friends any of this!

  15. Celena says:

    AWWWEEE This makes me sad!! But it’s also pretty crazy how your son came up with this! How did the Santa Claus talk go? Love this! Stopping by from TALU! 🙂

  16. When my son was young, he found out that Santa did not bring gifts. All of my assurances that Santa was the spirit of Christmas did not make a believer out of him. BUT he was shocked when I mentioned the name of the store where I bought the Easter candy. “You mean the Easter bunny isn’t real?” I was not following the logic that could be sure that the man didn’t come down the chimney but that a giant rabbit would come by with candy. Yet another mommy flub… TALU

  17. Ah, ouch ouch ouch! Stop asking the painful questions, child! Just enjoy your Reese’s eggs and youth for a little while…
    Though you handled it perfectly, I think. Sigh, why do they have to grow up?
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  18. Vanessa D. says:

    I think I would have put off the Santa conversation too. My boys didn’t question the Easter Bunny – even on the year he “forgot” to come and we all had to go back to bed and give him time to come back our way.
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  19. the truth is out there… then of course, sometimes we want to rush and put it back in. ha.
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  20. I took Philip to our community’s Easter egg hunt this morning. The Easter Bunny (well, the person dressed as him) freaked him out. I took him outside to the playground to get away from the EB. Half an hour later and the egg hunt still hadn’t begun, so we left. He didn’t seem to mind. I think he would have been more miserable waiting.
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    • Marcy says:

      It doesn’t sound like Philip missed out at all. My kids look terrified in every picture we managed to get of them with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. There are only a few–they usually wouldn’t go near them, but would smile and wave from far away.

  21. Genna Claire says:

    Love this, Marcy!! I had a similar experience as a child when I heard a noise on Christmas night and ran out of my room hoping to catch Santa Clause in the act. Instead, I found my mom and dad wrapping my biggest present that year. I was stunned, but also sort of happy. I liked giving them the credit they deserved for all those presents, instead of some guy I was never going to see. Thanks for sharing!!
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    • Marcy says:

      I like that it made you sort of happy! Santa always gave the best present in my household, so it is nice when they get to appreciate the thought that went into it came from the parents. 🙂

  22. Likeitiz says:

    Well, it’s bittersweet when the time does finally arrive and we parents have to ‘fess up. Your older son is growing up!
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