Sunday, April 17, 2011

I am the Country Bunny

My favorite children's book growing up was The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes. It's still in print and if you don't own it and have little ones, it's worth a trip to the bookstore before Easter.  I remember always going to the shoe store looking for gold tennis shoes, convinced that they were always just "sold out."  The bronze baby shoes that often were showcased at the counter reinforced this notion in my head.  Kid logic does not require perfect proof, only sufficient collaborative evidence.

So when I was finally made aware of the reality of where all the eggs and candy came from, I cried hard.  Harder than one would think over Easter than one would expect for Christmas.  Not wanting to be unsympathetic to her oldest daughter who just learned that some of the pixie dust of the world was purely manufactured by Disney Corporation, she patted me on the shoulder and asked what was the worst about having this new knowledge.

"It means Scratchy (my rabbit) is out of a job."  I sobbed.

Mom had the prudence to decide not to address this muddled confusion of mine.  "She'll do just fine. She still has us."  Mind you, my pet bunny was the most foul tempered long eared rodent to ever grace the planet.  Her only expercise was to run away from my younger brother who would try to pet her inside a fenced area our saintly neighbor had created for this very purpose.  Mom figured I would get over it when the foil wrapped bunnies appeared in my basket.  Chocolate soothes a great many things including a heart that needs to grow up a little.  It did. 

But over the months that followed, my brain kept working on those hard truths, drawing the lines slowly.  That meant the story of the mother cottontail with the 21 baby bunnies who grew up to be the fifth Easter bunny wasn't anything but fiction either. 

But I didn't want it to be, because that story still felt real.  I went back to my room where a stiff baby shoe in my toybox was a keepsake that I would pretend was golden and belonged to the Easter bunny.  I loved the idea of the little girl rabbit putting her hands on her hips and declaring, "Wait and see." when the other older rabbits mocked her dreams.  I loved that she became what she wished not on her own time, but in the fullness of time by being joyously dutiful despite the apparent unglamorous demanding requirements of raising her 21 children.   The Grandfather bunny gives her golden shoes that allow her to bring Easter joy to the most difficult of places because of her courage, persistence and great love for children.

Having read the story recently to my own toddlers, they saw the parallel immediately and began to discuss which of the jobs they had in the house. (The Country Bunny assigns two children to each chore, leaving the politest one as the keeper of her chair and in my fantasy world back then, the next generation Easter Bunny who would take his mother's place when she grew too old to carry Easter baskets).  As a kid I'd worked these things out in my brain trying to figure out which job I would get assigned; like I said before, Kid logic works on its own world view rules.  I wanted to be one of the kids assigned to paint pictures. 

I tried to use this new generation's love of the old story to my advantage by assigning chores to two at a time.  They agreed.  I even have one willing to pull out my chair for me at dinner.  I thought about calling my mom at that point, explaining that I was the fifth Easter Bunny and said, "I take a size six and a half please."

I am the Country Bunny.


Anonymous said...

But I wanted to be the Country Bunnny!

Anonymous said...

I took a pr of white leather tennis shoes and spray painted then with gold spray paint. My first grade class of 21 knew immediately why I would be wearing them! Try it, it works!

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