I should have known by the barrier that this was going to end badly. The tape keeping the throng of sugar-craving toddlers at bay read "CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS." Parents all around us were laying out strategies for their kids so complex I expected at any moment one of them would pull a chalkboard out of a stroller and diagram the game plans with arrows, Xs and Os.
We didn't go to our town's Easter Egg Hunt last year. We thought it would be too chaotic for a child still learning to walk. Instead we held a little hunt of our own in the front yard. With a little help, she found the eight eggs filled with Cheerios in short order.
But this year we had gotten to the community hunt a half hour early, fearing the consequences of being late. As we stood behind the tape, keeping Annabel amused with songs and games, between her pleading for us to let her "do out there and pict some ayes." She was SOOO patient. And then the man with the megaphone informed us they would be starting with the youngest group soon, but asked for parents who would volunteer to guard the borders so there would be eggs enough for the next gaggle of gigglies.
Jed said I should go out there. He thought it would entice her to run out to me, picking up eggs as she went. While my inner mother was screaming for me to tell him she would need help, I didn't say anything. Off I went to be a minuteman. When the signal was thrown, hundreds of tots broke rank. Except for Annabel who clung tightly to her father's stainproof pants. By the time they got out to me, all the eggs were gone and I had forgotten my job and let dozens of kids into the next territory. By all accounts it was a dismal failure.
When we got back to the line where it all started, Annabel realized that there would be no egg for her to pick. And the tears started to flow like rain. Talk about heartbreaking. What's worse, the crowd was dispersing and no one seemed to notice the little girl with the empty basket. As we stood there like deer in headlights a neighbor came over to see about the tears. Their daughter had gotten four eggs. (She had been to the event last year and was a professional marksman at the tender age of two). With a small conversation about giving one of her eggs to Annabel, she happily handed over two.
I have never wanted to hug a child more than I did that very minute. I think Annabel wanted to hug her too.
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