My daughter believes that – this very morning – a giant mystical hare visited central London, dodging traffic to come up the stairs in our building, straight to our door and left a big basket of chocolates and small toys outside just for her.
This is the same kid who questions core premises of Christianity, asking our vicar things like: “If God isn’t male or female and is an unknowable presence, why would he choose to come to earth in the form of a man?”
But it apparently has never occurred to her to ask “Why does a rabbit want to bring me chocolate?”
And “How does a rabbit become magical to begin with?”
And “How does a magical rabbit know that I like peanut butter M&Ms and shirts with the Avengers on them?”
And “Why does a magical rabbit only give away name-brand chocolate? Presumably, he could make his own chocolate. Or does he use money to purchase this chocolate? Where does the money come from? Does he create magically? How is that a sustainable business model? Isn’t there a risk of hyper-inflation? Does the government consider the Easter Bunny a counterfeiter? Does he pay taxes on his magically-generated income? How does his supply chain work? Does he order in bulk directly from chocolate factories and then handle the logistics of distribution via wizardry? Who weaves the baskets? Does the Easter Bunny have helpers like Santa Claus? If so, what are their working conditions? Are they paid in chocolate or magically-created money? Do they receive worker benefits? Do they only work in the spring? What do they do the rest of the year?
These are all obvious questions that Easter Bunny-believing children aren’t asking. Why not?
Which brings me to my own original query…. Are Easter Bunny believing children incredibly, shockingly, blindingly stupid?
I tried to crack this code once before, a little over a year ago, when I invented a fictional mythological entity called the Crockery Kraken. I wanted to see if I could get my daughter to believe in something as ridiculous and illogical as the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.
She saw right through it.
I don’t think kids are stupid. Maybe stupid like a fox. Or, er, stupid like a rabbit.
They know they got a good thing going, you don’t want to rock the boat. If a long-eared anthropomorphic supernatural member of the Lagomorph order wants to mystically gift you cocoa-based confections, maybe it’s wise to don’t ask too many questions. Just give me the damn chocolate and don’t bother me with the details. What do I care where it comes from. You say it’s a giant magic rabbit, that’s fine with me.
But I wonder if this is how people are primed for all kinds of disinformation and lack of accountability and responsibility for the things they have. Most people don’t want to know if their iPhone comes from a factory with terrible working conditions. Or that the stones in their engagement rings are actually blood diamonds. That dairy cows suffer terribly to supply you with milk and cheese. That Donald Trump maybe wasn’t the best businessman. That most of Britain’s modern prosperity comes because of, not despite, its partnership with the European Union.
Maybe I should tell my kid: Hey, there’s no goddamned Easter Bunny. Chocolate has to be manufactured somewhere, using cacao imported from huge plantations located in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where underpaid workers toil in the hot sun for subsistence wages. That those Avengers t-shirts are sewn in Bangladeshi sweatshops, often by children. That you can’t have the chocolate and the prizes without wondering where it all comes from. Without asking some tough questions. That there’s a price to pay for all that “free” chocolate that seems to effortlessly appear on our doorstep once a year.
Maybe I should tell her all that. And I probably will. But not until after I steal some of the candy she got. Peanut Butter M&Ms are awesome.