The eggs-hausting hunt

Dad, you can’t stop until you find them all.”

Jessie spoke these words during last year’s Easter egg hunt. Why did my wife Mattie and I teach Jessie not to quit when the going gets tough?

Before I discuss the egg collection, let me describe how Jessie ended up hiding 43 eggs for me to find: I carried the large box containing her plastic eggs from the garage to the kitchen.

Jessie said, “I’ll go through them and pull out my favorite ones.”

“No more than 36,” I responded, thinking that would be plenty for the Easter Bunny (me) to hide.

Jessie sifted through the box and pulled out her favorites. The variety of colors, shapes, and sizes in the keeper pile made an impressive collection. She counted them and said, “86.” Before I could repeat, “No more than 36,” my quick thinker said, “I know! I’ll hide half of them, and you can hide the other half.”

As an experienced husband (married 30 years) and dad (10 years), I learned long ago to choose my battles wisely. I did a quick math calculation, and to me, 43 eggs versus 36 didn’t seem like a big deal. I agreed to the negotiated egg-count terms. (“Negotiated” sounds better than “I cracked under pressure.”) A daughter’s fluttering eyelashes are hard to resist, especially when she’s wearing an Easter dress.

Egg hiding sure has changed over Jessie’s young life. In her early years, I hopped around the yard and hid both plastic and painted eggs. Jessie always enjoyed finding them, except for the one the dog found first and ate. However, before too long, Jessie wanted the egg-hiding role.

I never imagined I’d have to fight to keep my job as Easter bunny; I have egg-cellent qualifications. At 6-foot-5, I can hop a lot higher than Jessie — Mattie has video footage to prove it. In spite of my superior hopping performance, I’ve shared the egg-hiding job with Jessie for the past few years. I hid the eggs first, then after Jessie found them all, we reversed roles. However, last Easter, Jessie’s 11th, she wanted to go first, so she and Mattie proceeded to the yard with her 43 eggs while I stayed in the house and didn’t look.

Alone in the house, I came up with the brilliant plan to hide my eggs inside, which struck me as a win-win for both Easter bunnies.

I must also share one hide-and-seek rule we implemented long ago. so the hunt would finish before Christmas: The hider can’t open things and tuck eggs inside. In other words, the Easter bunny would never lift the garbage-can lid or open the door to the truck parked in the driveway.

Apparently, Jessie forgot about this standing rule. Luckily, she gave me hints: “You’re getting warm, hot, cold, colder.”

It’s good she did, too, because I’d still be looking for a few of them. She hid one egg in a vacant bird’s nest inside the birdhouse. She completely covered one egg with pine straw. Somehow, she planted one egg in the spouting at the edge of the roof. (Maybe she can hop higher than me?) Jessie propped another egg (the last one I found) on a tree branch 10 yards into the pine woods behind our house.

My most difficult find, though, was the tiny, pink egg Jessie tucked in the exhaust pipe of our van, which was, technically, out-of-bounds in the garage. Unfortunately, she pushed the egg in too far and it tumbled down the curve in the pipe. I retrieved a flashlight, but couldn’t see it. Mattie and Jessie stood in the driveway as I started the car, hoping the egg would come out. I turned the key in the ignition. Mattie said the egg shot out about 10 feet. All outside eggs had been found — not easily, but at least a trip to the mechanic wasn’t necessary.

Jessie found the inside eggs with ease. But, hey, I followed the rules.

This year, I’ll be sure to review the Easter bunny hiding rules before Jessie heads outside with her basket of eggs. I need to prevent exhaustion issues … for me and my car.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy Easter!

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer. Follow him at and on Twitter @PatrickHempfing.