My entire life, I have been warned never to take candy from strangers, except on Halloween. This timeless wisdom has been passed down for generations and still stands true to this day. How many of us have taught our children and other precious littles about stranger danger and poisoned candy?
Every Easter, I remember one of the most unsettling moments of our parenthood journey. It is a story that the kids ask about every year and will likely be shared with one-day grands, maybe even great-grands. It's a cautionary tale that could have easily resulted in a terrible tragedy but by some great stroke of luck, ancestral intervention, or even divine providence, has a better ending.
Our son was just a wee-bit of about nine or ten years of age when this horrifying event occurred. We were living in a quiet, rural subdivision in Louisiana. Our neighborhood boasted tons of children and wide open spaces for all of them to play. One little boy, M, befriended our son and they spent many afternoons after school or on weekends hanging out together. We got to know his mom and his younger siblings pretty well and they became regular fixtures at our home.
One beautifully sunny day, our son asked to walk down to M's house to see if he could play. I gave him permission to walk alone as his house was only three or four driveways down the street. I made sure to remind him to stay in the grass and to come right back. Usually, I would watch him walk to and fro as I am just a tad shy of being a helicopter parent. This particular day, I did not do my normal watching from the front porch though for the life of me, I cannot remember why.
A few minutes later, my son walks in the door holding an unopened Pixie Stick, the epitome of childhood sugar rushes.
"Oh! Did M share some of his Easter candy with you?" I asked.
"No. He wasn't home," my son replied nonchalantly.
"Where did the candy come from?" I was confused by how he magically came to be in possession of candy during his short trip. I thought maybe M's grandmother had offered it to him.
"Someone dressed in a bunny suit gave it to me," he said.
"What?!" I practically shouted. "Who was in the bunny suit?"
"I dunno. Some guy in a red truck." My son eyed me warily. He wasn't sure why his mom was freaking out.
"You can't eat that," I said as I snatched it away. "Tell me everything. "
"Some guy, in an Easter bunny costume stopped, gave me a hug and the candy." He seemed nonplussed by the whole thing. My son, the sweet boy that he was, didn't see the harm in what had happened.
I, however, was not okay. I hugged him tightly as images of child serial killers rolled through my head. An Easter Bunny suit seemed perfect for the terror of a child murderer.
A stranger dressed as a rabbit and hugging my kid filled me with horror. The memory still does. Who was this weird fucking adult driving through my neighborhood hugging children and giving them candy? Why in the world would they, random adult, think that this was okay? Fuck that guy.
I am sure that it was probably some nice grandpa man that simply thought he was being kind and it never once crossed his mind that what he had done was highly inappropriate. I grew up during the rise of stranger danger and the death of Adam Walsh, the appearance of children on milk cartons, and ominous after school specials. The films Fatal Attraction and Donnie Darko gave rabbits a whole new level of scary.
I hated that I had to scare my child and explain what could have happened if this bunny man had an ulterior motive. I hated to shatter his innocence a little that day. Sometimes, as parents we have to do that because the alternatives are devastating. Children don't always understand the horrors that exist in humanity. Children aren't always inclined to listen very well either. It's just their nature. My son is one of those children. I've always had to be point blank blunt with him, in graphic detail,
for him to get the enormity of certain things.
Fuck that adult for being unnecessarily creepy and fuck them again for making me explain how awful adults can really be in this world.
Fuck him a third time for ruining Easter bunnies too.