Peep Dioramas

Kids are funny about holiday traditions. They’ll cling mightily to some while not remembering others; actively resist certain new ideas but welcome others without question.

Easter is where all holiday traditions have broken down in this family. We’ve done something different every year, to new levels of failure every time. I posted about a couple of them here and here.

Last year after so many Easter ideas that didn’t fly, I gave up trying to find something that would work. I dumped some chocolate in a pile on the table and slept in while CC took the kids to church. The older kids hid eggs for the younger kids, and I felt guilty for a whole year. I believe they considered that the best Easter ever. . .

But you never know what kids will latch onto. They’re always watching you, even when you think they aren’t paying attention. Turns out I did start a tradition: The five-dollar egg, and the dog poop egg.

#5 started asking about this year’s egg hunt shortly after Christmas.

The other kids would chime in that they just weren’t into egg hunts, didn’t want to color eggs, had no interest in doing anything like that- they were way too old for that stuff. They stopped short, however, of giving up their Easter baskets.

Spurred by last year’s guilt I decided that I would do an egg hunt this year, by God, because #5 kept asking about it. True to their word, his sisters all bailed on coloring eggs. All except for #4, who was forced into it by the babysitter after #5 had waited for her all day to do the eggs.

Sometimes it sucks being the youngest. I remember that.

The astute among you will notice that I am not the colorer of eggs. If you dig through the archives, you will also discover I don’t carve pumpkins, either.

But something. . . dare we say miraculous? . .  happened on Easter Sunday. Three of the girls decided to join in the egg hunt. Probably it was the promise of the $5 egg. Now, I may have hidden that egg in a place where it was more likely to be discovered by a ten-year-old boy than a teenage girl. Maybe. I may or may not have given him a word of encouragement/direction before the egg hunt began. I did not, however, tell him where it was.

Regardless, #5 did find the $5 egg (which was an egg with five bucks rubber-banded to it because I didn’t get plastic eggs this year).

#3 found the dog poop egg- which was a poop-colored egg hidden near a pile of dog poop (not in it). The best part is that she didn’t notice the poop when she found the egg, and was more than a little grossed out when I pointed it out to her. Win-win.

Peep Dioramas were next on the agenda, the prize up for grabs being a bag of Robin’s Eggs and some Silly Putty. The only rules were that Peeps had to be involved, and so did their Easter baskets. I guess I was envisioning  small Peep scenes contained within the Easter baskets. But the term “diorama” became. . .expanded. And suddenly three teenage girls and one ten-year-old boy were madly scrambling for anything remotely resembling blocks, dolls, or action figures.

All with showtunes blasting on Pandora.

My living room was epic.

And twisted. Most of the Peeps died. Including one that was puggle-napped.

#5’s scene involved a roller coaster, military vehicles, and towers. I called it Peep Inferno, even though nothing was technically on fire. Yet.

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It included a botched helicopter rescue:

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GRAB THE ROPE! THE ROPE!
MY ROPE BROKE! OH NOOO!
MY ROPE BROKE! OH NOOO!

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I seriously debated whether or not to include #4’s for fear of my door being broken down by DYFS. Then I figured, what the hell. If it’s the Peep diorama that sends DYFS over the edge, they haven’t been paying attention.

I dubbed this Rock Show of Doom because she claimed it all started at a concert:

When Mosh pits go bad
When Mosh pits go bad

And yes, I am intentionally avoiding close-ups of all of the creepily posed dolls. Please don’t scrutinize it.

While it was never clear who started off performing in the concert, it was very clear who the victor was:

Last Peep standing.
Last Peep standing.

#3’s started off as a volcano sacrifice (with tomato and Craisin lava). . .

Who to save?
Who to save?

DSCF7476But the availability of extra Army dudes changed it up a little and she opted for a “make your own story line” motif.

And who won?

#2.

With her Peep depiction of Les Misérables:

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Cosette. . .*cough*. .  mais non. . .
Cosette. . .*cough*. . mais non. . .

I have thrown Peeps, stuck Peeps to the wall to have Peep races (last Peep standing wins), tried to blow up Peeps in the microwave, eaten Peeps (not recommended), and cleaned up dog-vomited semi-digested Peeps (also not recommended). Hands down, the Peeps “dioramas” were the best Peep experience I’ve ever had. Maybe this tradition will stick (like a Peep, to the bottom of your shoe…)

What’s the most fun you’ve had with Peeps?

Egg Hunt. Work it.

My contribution. It was tasty.

Yesterday the egg hunt was left to me. We gave up all pretense of the Easter Bunny doing it after that first year. So I locked the kids in the basement while I hid the eggs. I was given a walkie talkie with which to communicate, but it had neither a belt clip nor a fist mic and so I left it in the kitchen. I occasionally heard squawks coming out of it and I’m sure they wondered if I was ever going to let them out.

You must understand that they dyed thirty-three eggs.

    

This happened while CC and I were at work. Also, when I envision the kids covering the dining room table to protect it while doing an art project, I see cardboard. I see newspaper.

I never would have thought of wrapping paper. Ingenious. Wrapping paper that is eight dollars a roll plus shipping because I order it online a couple times a year in futile hope that there will always be wrapping paper for the nine billion birthdays we celebrate. The stuff that is stored right next to the plain brown, inexpensive craft paper. Neat.

In addition to thirty-three real eggs, I had twelve plastic ones, filled with various things. Forty-five eggs, that is, and I don’t even need #5 to help me with that.

I made it hard. We don’t really have a yard. We have a steeply raked (think: three stories high) and tiered mud and rock bank with 192,000 plantings put in by the crazy gardening woman who lived here before us.

I like how kids think parents won’t ever exert themselves. We exert ourselves constantly, what with the pretending to cook and running around and pretending to clean and buying things and also the working part. We parents are fully capable of exertion. A kid bases their concept of a parent not wanting to exert any effort because the kid comes to the parent at 9:30pm, on the parent’s only night off, when said parent is right in the middle of story time with a younger sibling and is tired from running around all day and in fact has already changed into comfy but cute yoga pants or maybe more correctly never got properly dressed that day and is thinking only of trying to get all these kids to bed to spend some quality time with the other parent if you know what I mean, and the kid says that they need posterboard for a very important project that is due tomorrow, so not only will the parent have to go out and buy the posterboard but the kid will need help with the project and also permission to stay up way past their bed time, and the parent swears, not exactly at them but definitely in front of them.

Children are incapable of understanding fine distinctions like this.

I exerted myself for the egg hunt. What better cause to spend effort on than your own personal amusement at the expense of your kids?

I pulled on my boots and hid those eggs on all three stories’ worth of that steeply raked mud and rock bank. I camouflaged them under the piles of leaves that I never raked up last fall, tucked them in among the crazy gardening lady’s 192,000 plantings, put them behind trees and inside separated bits of the retaining wall.

Of the plastic eggs, I issued this decree: One has a five dollar bill in it. One contains dog poop.

Oh, and we’ve had a lot of rain. And it was like eighty degrees yesterday.

There was an awful lot of complaining about how much work the egg hunt was.

The five-dollar bill one I hid in the recycling bin. #3 actually paused in front of the trash and recycling bins, looked back at me, and decided that it was too icky and I wouldn’t have wanted to touch that.

She forgets how many times I have cleaned up her vomit.

So everyone was pissed when #5, being fearless, dove headfirst into the recycling bin and retrieved a pink plastic egg that did, in fact, turn out to have a five dollar bill in it.

#2 was the one who found the very last plastic egg. They were all so convinced that I had spoken the truth regarding a dog poop egg that she opened it gingerly at arm’s length and the candy it contained exploded out all over the ground. Proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, they do still, at times, listen to me.

I win.

Have some standards, Easter Bunny.

When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny came to my house. He brought my sister and I Easter baskets with jelly beans, chocolate eggs, hollow chocolate bunnies, and small outdoor toys: wooden airplanes, bubbles, chalk, maybe a kite.

He also hid the eggs we had colored.

Apparently, the Easter Bunny doesn’t pull the same routine everywhere. This would have been good to know before I tried to make Easter happen the first year the kids were living with us.

Me: So what do you guys do for Easter?

CC: I dunno, that was their mom’s holiday. I did Christmas. She took care of Easter.

That first year we made a big effort and had the Easter baskets ready when they woke up in the morning.

#1: What’s all this?

Me: Easter baskets. From the Easter Bunny.

#1: Why did the “Easter Bunny” come so early?

Me: What do you mean?

#1: He usually doesn’t come until after church.

Me: {feelings of guilt for doing it wrong, followed by double feelings of guilt for not being a church-going parent} Oh. Well, we can’t go to church because we have to work. Maybe that’s why he came early?

#1: {with heavy note of sarcasm, not really interested in keeping the magic alive} Yeah, usually we would be in the car to go to church like waaay early, and my mom would suddenly remember that she forgot something in the house, and she’d go back inside for like fifteen minutes, and then when we got home from church the “Easter Bunny” would have miraculously delivered the Easter baskets.

Me: Easter is all about the miracles.

That whole forgetting something in the house thing sounded like a good plan. I wondered if I could try it next year. It would probably mean more sleep.

It was when I tried to orchestrate the egg hunt that everything truly fell apart.

Should we hide the eggs inside or outside? The house we were renting wasn’t very big. Also the thought of an indoor hunt terrified me because I’m not known for my housekeeping and it was highly possible that an egg would be hidden and never, ever found. This was before we had dogs. (In retrospect, this was a very valid concern, due to the things I did find when we finally moved, including more than one sandwich under a bed and a sticky rubber octopus in a light fixture that I couldn’t reach).

So we decided outside, which led to the next hard part: when to hide them. If you hide them outside too early, they’ll get eaten by things. If you do it too late, the kids will see you and the cover is blown.

What I didn’t count on is that if you’re not raised with the belief that the Easter Bunny hides the eggs, nothing will convince you otherwise.

For reasons I don’t fully comprehend, it’s much easier for them to adapt beliefs surrounding Christmas and Santa, but regarding the Easter Bunny, it truly is like converting to another religion. Santa at least carries on the spirit of “peace on earth, good will towards man.” The connection between Jesus and Santa is a stretch, but passable in the minds of most kids, especially because of the presents at the end.

The Easter Bunny is nebulous. He has neither sidekicks nor clearly delineated responsibilities. His connection to the tomb is nonexistent. It would be a far enough cry to connect the Easter Bunny with Ostara, but I get it, based on the abundant fertility of bunnies. But connecting the Easter Bunny with Jesus? It would make more sense to have an Easter Zombie. Which my kids would probably relate to better anyway.

Standards. The Easter Bunny needs some goddamn standards.

They’d never done an egg hunt at home. The only egg hunts they had done were at churches or parks with other large groups of kids and they were super-competitive. We tried to hide some easy ones and let them stagger the start youngest to oldest. That only made #1 head immediately to the front, where she found every single front-hidden egg while all her siblings were occupied in the back.

And? They were largely disappointed that only real eggs were hidden. There were supposed to be eggs filled with candy. There were supposed to be eggs filled with money.

Where’s the spec sheet for this holiday? None of this makes any sense.

In spite of me, my kids are good people. They’re forgiving and fun-loving enough that they don’t mind too much if a holiday is different, and they each have a spark of that weird, dark humor that their Dad and I find so endearing. Thankfully, there are a lot of good people looking out for them that not only will steer them away from the Easter Zombie, but who will still speak to me even though I brought it up.

They did get #1 back for finding all the eggs: