|Source: Fuse Photo|
For a two year old, the community egg hunt is an important life event. It's where she learns about the connection between hidden eggs with candy surprises and boatloads of fun. It's also where she learns that life is a game, and if you're not throwing elbows, you're going to get run over.
There are several factors that you must take into account in order to maximize your child's egg collecting efforts. Remember the more eggs they collect, the more candy you can stealthily eat at eleven o'clock at night.
Can you spot the difference in these pictures of crazy parents?
One includes children.
1. Arrive Early
If you are attending an event that is free to the general public, you should plan to arrive at least a half-hour early. I know what you're thinking, "I don't want my kid standing around with nothing to do for that long." Trust me, there will be something to do. The egg hunt we attended had vendor booths, photos with the Easter bunny, a petting zoo full of baby animals, and even McGruff the Crime Dog was there. So, while one parent keeps the child occupied at the petting zoo, the other can get the lay of the land and start plotting strategy. Whoever is better at Battleship should be the default strategist because that game is like the standardized test for how strategic a person can be. As my wife said after I destroyed her in one of our first games of Battleship, "You had a strategy?" She quickly caught on, and is now a formidable opponent. I digress.
The other reason you should arrive early is that you cannot always be sure of the parking situation. The typical egg hunt takes less than five minutes. You don't want to be walking from your car when the signal is being given to start the egg hunt. You want to be in position, ready to trample.
2. Know the Rules
Every egg hunt is different. Check all of the rules before the event, and verify any questions you may have at the information area when you arrive. For example, does your kid need to bring his own basket or are they provided? That is a must-know BEFORE you leave the house.
At our hunt, they had four areas roped off, one for each age group. Ages 1-4 went at 10:30, and ages 5-8 went at 11:30. One mother was walking through the crowd at 10:15 and happened to ask me, "Where do the eight year olds go?" I said, "They go home for another hour because their hunt is at 11:30 like it says on the giant flyer in your hand." I'm kind of a jerk sometimes.
You also must know what is at stake. Are there special eggs that need to be opened on site to claim larger prizes? You don't want to get home and realize that you won a prize and have to drive back out into the crowds. As you are scouting your path of egg collecting destruction, see if you notice anything different about any of the eggs that might signify that it is a prize egg (like two different colored halves).
It is very important to know whether the kids are hunting with parents, on their own, or if there is a "delayed parental entry" as was the case at our hunt. You don't want to be the parent that stumbles onto the hunting ground accidentally. You will immediately feel the wrath of every other parent who is obeying the rules. Also, if your kids are hunting on their own and they fall, unless they are bleeding or have obviously broken something, do not rush to their aid! You will set off a chain reaction of charging parents that cannot be undone. You immediately triple* your child's risk of getting trampled.
Don't forget to ask if the eggs are recycled. You don't want to take them home if you don't have to. They'll just get left in the yard to get mowed over, or worse yet, disappear under the seat of the car until you vacuum them up six months from now.
A two year old's natural reaction to hundreds of running, screaming children is usually one of two things - follow the crowd and do what they do, or stare in amazement at the spectacle taking place. Either way you lose because the LEADERS are the ones that get the most eggs. You don't want your child to be a follower or an observer, do you? You want a kid that can focus on the task at hand. You want your kid to be the one that all the other kids are following. My wife, who is not normally a highly competitive person, actually hid some eggs in the back yard as practice the night before. At first, I was skeptical, but I have to admit, it paid off. My daughter came away with about a dozen eggs full of candy, and I've already stolen two Tootsie rolls.
I'm going to use my little nephew as an example of what happens when you don't practice. You may remember me talking about C-man before. He's an awesome little guy. At the conclusion of our egg hunt, my sister described to me why her little guy did not get a lot of eggs. "When they let the parents in, I ran up behind him and I thought he was pooping himself," she laughed, "He was kneeling down a few feet in front of me, and when I caught up to him, I realized that he was blowing dandelions." I love the little guy. He just wasn't focused on the task at hand, and who is going to suffer because of it? Not him, he had the time of his life blowing those little dandelions! Nope, the ones that suffer are mom and dad because there will be no candy for them to steal from their boy. They brought this on themselves.
How was your egg hunt this year? Did your little ones score a lot of candy for you? Did they make you proud with the way they threw elbows just to beat some kid off of that prize egg?
*This is only speculation. Statistics have not been verified by a double-blind study.