When you have five kids and prep for an Easter egg hunt, you can’t just rely on the hard boiled dyed ones, you have to supplement with plastic and then try to decide what goes inside of them in a migraine-inducing trip to Target.
Because heaven forbid you hide EMPTY eggs. They forgive you with the real eggs. Those you toss in the trash after they sit in your closet for a month, ripening.
But an empty plastic easter egg is heresy, so you start small.
“One chocolate chip per egg ought to do it,” you say, looking around at all those expectant faces and multiplying by five. Or ten. Maybe more if all the cousins are coming over.
So you up the ante, because if the cousins are coming over, their eggs will have Willie Wonka Golden Tickets inside, and the next thing you know, you’ve spent a small fortune on candy and scrounged up tiny Happy Meal toys they forgot they had from the back of their closet, and loose change from between the couch cushions.
One year my kids emptied their found eggs, and put bugs inside and had a second round. There was not only more excitement, but a few kids got grossed out so good that they were considered the “winners”.
Some day, my kids are going to throw me an easter egg hunt – they SO owe me – and my plastic eggs will have hundred dollar bills inside. Epic egg hunt. Maybe one will have diamonds, just to spice it up a bit.
Regardless, there are no expectations of grandeur when it comes to finding a traditional easter egg.
Those are for before Easter, as a family bonding art project.
(We are pausing a moment to remind ourselves that those four words were never meant to go together. Thank you.)
What mom doesn’t look forward to turning her kids loose on a table full of dye and eggs?
“Here’s a crayon,” you say brightly, trying to whip up some enthusiasm, “just draw your design on here and put the egg into a cup of color.”
One kid breaks a crayon trying. One kid breaks an egg trying. You dump the egg into blue dye anyway because it’s not like anyone will be eating it.
One year, my sister and I teamed up. We sat all the kids outside at the picnic table and filled dye cups and spread newspapers and piled hard boiled eggs up at one end.
There were crayons and stickers and plastic shrink strips and cute drip trays. It was a rainbow of artistic magic waiting to happen.
Halfway through, it occurred to our clever kids to question what else would change color if you put it into the cup. Turns out, sticks, leaves, bugs, dirt clods, and chicken feathers do not dye well.
But your brother’s shirt, yes.
In the meantime, I noticed a funny look on my sister’s face. The kids had dispersed to the wilds of the backyard, seeking further scientific experimentation, and we were left to carry on as best we could.
I was drawing butterflies and my sister was staring at her purple egg. She shook it next to her ear.
“How long are you supposed to boil eggs?” she asked.
“Um, well it said boil 10 then let it sit for 20, but I’m an overachiever so I boiled em up for 20, just to be safe.”
We both looked at her egg.
“Which ones are yours?” I asked, radar going off.
We are, after all, daughters to the same mother.
The egg pile was impressive and combined beyond the fingerprinting process.
We glanced at the kids. They were oblivious, busy chasing hens out of the garden.
If you can believe it, my sister can spin traditional ideas into pretzels even faster than I can, so when I saw her wicked little half-smile, I knew these eggs had just received a new destiny.
I set my butterflies down sadly, “Aw, maaaaan….”
We put the cups of dye in the garden so the kids could continue enriching their cognitive development, fine motor skills, and hair coloring talents.
She set up a trashcan lid as a target, with the trashcan underneath.
I looked around for the neighborhood watch, in case cameras were rolling.
Then we took turns finding out which eggs were cooked beyond recognition (and bounced) and which eggs were still trying to be baby chicks when they grew up (splat).
My butterflies did what they were created to do. Only much faster.
It was the most therapeutic thing we’d done in a long time, bonding over scrambled eggs.
I’m sure mom would’ve been proud.
I highly recommend it.