Easter has always been the easiest holiday for Teghan. Holidays usually include kid-friendly events like doubling their toy collection, taking candy from strangers, observing loud explosions in the sky…. but searching for symbols of fertility in strange places around the house? Our kid was made for it.
The Easter egg hunt was the first game concept Teghan ever understood. She is gifted at finding things. Remember the Wham! record? It has proven to be a good tool for vocabulary, too. At some point my husband figured out that if he placed eggs (or sometimes treats) on things throughout the house he could evaluate her receptive language more accurately.
For example, “chocolate on the kitchen table….” is the quickest way to find out if she knows what “kitchen table” means. And if she doesn’t know, she will next time.
These strategies are especially useful when your child cannot communicate and will not “perform.” It doesn’t matter if she knows the answer or not; if we ask her a question we will have about a seventy percent chance of being ignored. Offering an incentive improves that percentage drastically.
So Easter egg hunts are perfect. In our own home, of course (she still isn’t very good with following rules or sharing). This year we offered her back to back days of waking up and coming downstairs to an empty basket and a few eggs in plain sight to get her started. No explanation needed.
I also scattered a half-dozen balloons across the living room floor because they make her happy. Mostly because she likes to pop them, but whatever. It was a holiday. On Easter morning she even had a purple alien balloon which she dragged around all day, periodically stomping on his head. He just wouldn’t die. Later I caught her sitting with him on the couch singing and pointing out his head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
We filled her eggs with toys and more chocolate than we have ever allowed her to eat. While hiding them the night before, my husband kept looking at me and saying, “Are you sure? This is crazy.”
Maybe. But it was nowhere near the amount of chocolate I used to eat on Easter so I knew she would survive. I am guessing he was more concerned about our survival, but it seemed to have little impact. We were amazed to watch her actually save some for later! We had no idea that was possible. This is, after all, the girl who never stops eating and has a second lunch written into her IEP.
Now we will take on the task of continuing this game throughout the year (or until all the eggs are broken and/or missing), which means getting more creative with what she finds inside them. I remember hiding eggs with my friend Billy for weeks after the day was over– and those eggs were empty. We didn’t care. But we did get bored eventually.
Teghan likes broccoli. Would that be a weird thing to hide in an Easter egg?
When I was a kid my parents would hide money is some of the eggs. The harder the egg was to find, the better the prize. One year I found the coveted ten dollar egg hidden between the kitchen trash liner and can. My mom had used one of those eggs that held panty hose (I know I am not the only one who has found that egg). I am about to turn forty, and that is the only Easter egg I remember. I have no idea what I spent the ten dollars on. Probably more candy.
Maybe we could incorporate this into a new dinner ritual. Instead of getting upset every time she leaves the table to sprint across the room, fall backwards on the crash pad, and touch the wall (exactly three times between each bite if we let her); we could make her hunt down each bite individually! You think I’m kidding, but she would be thrilled to run around the house hunting down her food.
“Mashed potatoes on the record player!”
I might not be thrilled in August when I stumble across that lost egg hiding a shriveled piece of broccoli, but the important thing is that we would be building vocabulary and creating life-long memories. Right?