It is a little known fact that in The United States of America, 1% of the kids are in possession of 99% of the eggs. I think we can all agree that this is not a fair distribution of wealth. Just because you hunt a little harder for your eggs, doesn’t explain why some kids walk out of the field crying with an empty basket, while your sack runneth over with symbols meant to celebrate the triumph of great sacrifice for others. There is no one single explanation for this disparity; a combination of corporate malfeasance and political apathy seem to be the main contributors, although much must be said of the overwhelming culture of continually trending individualism. But whatever the factors in play, it was clear from the get-go that the strong were getting stronger and the weak might as well have stayed home.
To begin to analyze the problem, we must examine the basic rules of Easter egg hunts, and they are very few to be sure.
One: everyone must stand outside of the designated egg area.
Two: do not be 35 years old.
Three: the signal will be given to start the egg hunt.
Four: non-violent chaos.
These simple but universally accepted rules are actually quite effective in keeping the playing field relatively fair. And yet everyone wants to break all of them, all the time.
As early as fifteen minutes before the hunt was scheduled to begin, I saw kids starting to cross the yellow caution tape that separated the field from the world. There were adult people out there scattering the eggs, with official “Fun Facilitator” t-shirts on, as well as a guy taking photos, a radio personality with a bullhorn that was supposedly in charge of it all, and a variety of other important looking folk. Not one of them said a word to these children, now fully across the tape and into the field. Since no one was saying anything to them, they started inching closer and closer to the eggs, scattered obviously about the wet ground.
“Excuse me!” I called out to the Fun Facilitators. “Are kids allowed past the tape yet?” My daughter was asking if she could venture out as well, and I was reluctant.
“Well, all those kids are out here, so I guess so!” said the t-shirted woman cheerfully.
Ah. I see. There are no rules. It got so bad that some kids, the rule-breaking kids, started picking up eggs and sneakily slipping them into their bags several minutes before the event began. And who’s to say they were wrong? If the people making the rules are unwilling to enforce them, are they actually rules at all? Perhaps these kids were just the smart ones, while all of those obedient suckers behind the tape were the idiots who would go home crying.
Since there were no rules, it of course made sense that, at some point, some kids were just going to rush the field before the announcer said “go.” And once a few kids went, that was it. The floodgates were open. They were all running. Except that those first few to run got to the big egg piles first. They got to the silver and golden eggs that we all saw glinting in the sunlight, which all of the kids coveted and all of the parents told their children to go straight toward. These eggs held the big prizes. And the ones who got the prizes were the ones who broke the rules.
Of course, some of those kids seemed to be around my age, snatching up eggs and stuffing them into the baskets of the small children next to them. Hmmmmm. I distinctly heard the announcer shout out, “No parents! Kids only!” So for those of us who stood on the sidelines it was a frustrating window into the depths of parental villainy. Once the parents were on the field, you knew their kids were getting some freakin’ eggs, to the detriment of the the children of us law-abiding parents.
And obviously, though they strongly warned us against this, there was violence. Pushing, shoving, grabbing, ripping bags, and cracking eggs. Arms and legs and heads were ripped from little torsos and flung about the battlefield in a, well, okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it was clearly a survival of the fittest moment out there. I felt like I was sending my kids off to the Capitol to participate in the Hunger Games.
Both of my kids did well. Edward left the 4-5 year old heat after a few minutes, declaring that he had found enough eggs and was now going to open them and eat all of the candy, which he immediately did. Yes, he left the field with eggs still on the ground because he had as many as he needed. He clearly does not understand capitalism. And Ruby had her heart set on a certain silver egg that vanished quickly once twenty other kids jumped the tape and started the hunt early. She came back with only a few eggs in her bag, and despair on her face. Luckily, we discovered that two of her eggs were special ones containing movie passes, so she ended up being super excited and declaring it the best Easter egg hunt ever.
The last heat was for 8-12 year olds, and we had an 8-year-old neighbor in tow, so we stood around, ready for one last battle. That was when a miracle happened. A young intern from the radio station showed up and began shouting at everyone to get behind the tape. “That’s what it’s there for, people!” she shouted in annoyance as all of the children quickly ran back behind the tape. The kids got it; they knew why the tape was there. They just wanted to see what they could get away with. It’s human nature. One word from an adult and they all scurried away, back to their rightful places.
When the hunt began, our neighbor got the silver egg he was going for, because it was a fair fight. He saw what he wanted, made a plan to get it, and (and this is the crucial part) there were not twenty other kids already in front of him. Burlington Parks Department. I implore you. This was a fabulously fun event, with face painting, cookie decorating, free popcorn, humans dressed as large animals hugging small children, and over 10,000 eggs. Don’t let it be ruined by nefarious nonchalance. Enforce the rules equally, so that everyone gets a fair shake, and nobody goes home with an empty bag. And also so I don’t punch anyone.