The only Easter Egg Hunts I have been to are in New York City. I imagine attaining Egg Hunt Perfection is a lot easier in the 'burbs. But just in case there are others like me who partake in communal neighborhood egg hunts instead of family hunts in their own backyard— this one is for you.
EASTER EGG HUNT FANTASY:
Children in their Easter best gather on the White House lawn or some other lawn equally expansive. All eggs have been thoughtfully hidden in places that are neither too easy nor too difficult to find. When the hunt begins, the children know instinctively to spread out as much as possible so they don't step on one another's turf. There are enough eggs so all children are thoroughly occupied for at least thirty minutes time, with each child successfully filling their basket to the brim. When all eggs have been collected, the children gather together to open them up and see what they have inside. This is only a formality because, of course, whatever is inside the eggs, the children will be equal parts delighted and grateful. Afterwards, each child hugs and thanks their parents for showing them such a magnificent time.
EASTER EGG HUNT REALITY:
Your husband dresses your child while you are breastfeeding the baby and by the time you involve yourself in the process she is wearing pink leggings with a hole in them that she refuses to remove. They have paired those leggings with a forest green "Super Soccer Stars" t-shirt that is three sizes too big. You opt out of this battle because it's not like you are going to church and she'll be wearing a jacket anyway.
The one instruction you were given by the Egg Hunt Organizers was to bring your own basket. Between getting your three-year-old, your baby and your husband out the door with the necessary snacks, diapers and changes of clothes, you don't remember the basket until you have already left the house. Then you have to circle back, run upstairs with a baby strapped to your chest and find something ANYTHING to use. You settle on a beach pail. At least it's not a white plastic bag from Duane Reade.
The hunt takes place in a large courtyard between a few residential buildings. Due to lesson from last year (in which all the big kids overtook the little kids and left them with no eggs to find within a span of two minutes), the hunt has been split into two separate heats. At 11:30pm, all kids under three will search for eggs. At 12pm, all kids over three will search for eggs. You are also given strict instructions (again, due to last year) to only allow your child to take five eggs. You nod your head at these restrictions, thinking them very wise.
You arrive at the location at 11:45am, right when the little kid hunt is ending and the eggs are being re-hidden for the bigger kids. But, since your kid is exactly three (on the cusp of the little kid/big kid cut-off), she is not yet mature enough to undertstand why she must wait fifteen minutes for the hunt to begin. She sees eggs, she wants eggs, she was told she is here to hunt for eggs and so, SHE RETRIEVES EGGS. You then have to spend the next fifteen minutes convincing your child to put them back so that she can hunt for them again at the official time. A concept that makes no sense to her whatsoever.
When you have finally convinced your child to rehide the eggs (through a variety of threats, bribes and thanking her profusely for being SUCH A GOOD GIRL), you lead her to the group of kids assembling behind a rope. Your child runs under the rope making sure she is front and center and you avoid glances from other parents because perhaps they missed the whole premature-hunting-thing and won't realize she is yours.
At 12pm exactly, the rope drops, the kids squeal with excitement and take off. Unfortunately, they all focus their attention on the same bush. Hands are stepped on, parents yell to look elsewhere, THE PINK ONE is ripped right out from under your child's grasp. Uh-oh. You know that look. Tantrum will commence in 5, 4, 3— "It's okay, we'll find another pink one!" "I WANT THAT PINK ONE!!!!!!!" "Look, there's a pink one over there!" you lie. It works. She spots a tree, all the way in the back, makes a break for it. "I FOUND ONE!!!!!!" She picks up a pink one. You breathe a sigh of relief. Then a green one, a yellow one and a striped one, in quick succession. SHIT. This is too easy! You remember the "5 Eggs Rule". Oh no! How is this supposed to be enforced? "Make sure you leave eggs for the other kids!" you yell cheerily. She ignores you. Your husband begins removing eggs and throwing them back into the bushes when she isn't looking. She quickly finds twice as many to replace them. You overhear another mother, "Wow, she's got a lot of eggs…" "We're going to put them back!" you say a little too defensively. "No, no, I wasn't judging you!" the woman assures you. This is what's happening now. You're misinterpreting friendly banter at a neighborhood egg hunt.
You realize all the kids have tons of eggs. There seem to be more than enough. You relax. Your child is happy. She sits on the ground to open her eggs and see what is inside. A rubber bunny. A plastic ring. A cat tattoo. She doesn't stop until every last one is open. "Isn't this FUN?????" you say.
"But— THERE'S NO CANDY!!!!!!!!!"