Ethical Easter-Egg Hunting

Originally posted March 19, 2008

You’ve seen it happen. The guy in charge explains that each child is allowed to keep up to seven plastic eggs, and then you watch –as one after another they dart past you with dozens, scurrying to grab more, while you remind your own kids that they may keep only seven.

“But Mommy, those kids have a ton,” Noah protested last year.

“I know, honey,” I said, gritting my teeth. “No matter what someone else does, you still need to do the right thing.”

“What’s wrong with these parents?” my husband mumbled, shaking his head.

At one point, weary of watching my kids hunt through the hedges, their chances of meeting the seven-egg-limit dwindling, I actually heard myself saying to an older kid (who looked to be pushing the upper age-limit of ten years) “Hey man, only seven per customer.”

“I know,” he replied weakly, as he avoided my eyes and dragged his haul past me through the grass at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where hundreds of kids were on hand to participate in Cantigny’s first Easter Egg Hunt.

I scrunched up my eyes and silently wished him well, hoping that somehow, someway, he’d remember to share. Or that his bag would tear and the extras would slip out. Maybe, if we followed him … But I digress.

“They’re not going to let them fill their extras anyhow,” a passing woman remarked, which reminded me that the plastic eggs were empty, to be filled by Cantigny staff waiting with the goodies inside the Visitors Center.

Her comment reminded me that at least at this egg-hunt, the fast-grab for the lootwouldn’t matter in the end, because the fast-grabbers wouldn’t be allowed to go home with more than their share. How forward-thinking of the Cantigny staff. Kudos to them.

If only this happened more often in real life: You get only what you need, then you need to get your entitled butt out of the way and let someone else get some.

It occurs to me that this Easter Egg Hunt is really a metaphor for life. Why do you grab more than you need? And if you find that in your excitement you have unwittingly done so, why not slow down and summon the courage and humility to share a few of your extras with those who weren’t as fortunate, quick or clever as you?

It might have looked like a benign little egg-hunt. But you know what? It was an opportunity in disguise, and some of you parents out there really blew it. Don’t worry. You’ll get another chancethis year.

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