Last Sunday, through the generosity of a family friend, we joined an Easter Sunday program for kids held at one of the malls in town. A fee of Php300 was asked from would-be participants prior to the event. It boasted of a pirate show, face painting, snow cones, cotton candy, pop corn, and a 15-minute use of a “bouncy pirate ship.” The main activity though would be an easter egg hunt throughout the entire mall. This included establishments wherein you go in and search through their entire catalog (hopefully no one took anything besides the eggs).
The event was supposed to start at 1:30pm — “sharp,” the ticket said — so we made sure we got there earlier and just buy our lunch from the mall’s watering hole of food joints. At 1:00pm, I could already tell that the event was going to be a disaster. At 1:00pm, they were just starting to set everything up. Barriers were being put in place; the food stalls were just being set up. The first to finish was the face painting stall who announced that children can start lining up. Next was the balloon twisting stall — where kids can request for a balloon-twisted version of a dog, a sword, a pair of birds, etc. Me and RyRy lined up at the face painting stall as that was what she wanted to do of the two. Out of nowhere, there was a line forming parallel to ours. This was the registration line. Spell disorganized!
Registration was a prerequisite for you to get the treasure map. Luckily, our family friend Steph actually got us the early bird tickets which means we can actually skip registration and get our maps right away. But before we realized this, there were already quite a number of parents (mostly moms) with their kids dashing off to find the eggs. Since we brought the two kids, I was tasked to go egg-hunting (not so manly of a chore) with RyRy while Miguel stayed with his mom. I actually had the map planned out wherein we start at the middle since I expected the other groups to have cleared out the first few stops. When we got to the establishment we were eyeing, I was somehow amazed but at the same time disappointed at how the moms actually scoured through the store. They actually knelt down to check the racks for the eggs, jostling their way through the children’s dresses on display.
I was amazed because of their dedication; their tenacity to not let their kid go home empty-handed. I was disappointed because this was an event that was supposed to be for kids. The kids should’ve been the ones running around, looking for the eggs, and having fun. My competitive nature told me to shove the other parents aside, box them out just like I did in my college basketball days but my matured self told me to rather teach my kid a very important lesson. RyRy starting tearing and as a parent, my heart broke for her. It was supposed to be a fun event but I guess every parent would’ve wanted something in return for the Php300 they spent (talk about ROI!).
I saw numerous parents starting to complain. When we went back to the open area designated to the event after the last stop, there were still people lined up to register. But what for? All eggs have been swept already. They were paying for nothing (aside from the easily-smudged face painting, snow cones with whole blocks of ice in it, and popcorn which was nowhere to be found). When the group got larger, the organizer told everyone that there will be a second round of egg hunt — right after the “pirate show” which featured an amateur magician and distasteful fire-breathing women who resembled GROs because of what they were wearing which I found very inappropriate for a children’s event.
We told RyRy we’ll try to get eggs in the second round — meanwhile, try to enjoy the lackadaisical performance while I watch NBA highlights from a bar right beside. After yawning and wiping sweat off my head, the silly excuse of a “pirate show” ended and we were looking forward to get us some eggs. The host dressed up as a pirate led us into a lounge area where he clearly told everyone that only kids will be allowed to enter. I’m not sure how the conversation with other parents went from there but he later on decided that it will just be a free-for-all. When he finally said go, I saw exactly why the Philippines is a third-world country. Every parent had no regard whatsoever to the people around them — not even to the kids. Everyone shoved each other so they can pass through the narrow stairway leading to the lounge. I saw yayas leaping through the the bar area to check the drawers for eggs.
In the end, lots of kids got their eggs. But the parents (including me) who were still not willing to accept that this has turned into a horrendous event for adults, stared in shock and disbelief. RyRy, of course, was once again down. She felt betrayed just as I did. She then told me “I hate these kids, they’re naughty!” but I simply told her “It’s not the kids who are unfair Ryskie (as I fondly call her). You are practically competing with grown ups. I know you might say that’s very one-sided but I want you to know that we can actually beat this guys. We will practice and think about our strategy the next Easter egg hunt we go to.” Deeply, I was hoping there won’t be any more of this. I just wanted my kid to learn that life isn’t fair early on; that she has to adjust to the world and not the other way around. Nothing is going to be handed to her. She has to work for every bit of thing she wants — even if all the odds are stacked up against her.
Steph was able to find one egg in the entire ordeal and she handed it over to RyRy. She gladly accepted it but there still isn’t a smile to be seen on her face. She was still crushed. A random kid, after seeing how she was, placed one egg in her basket. She looked at me, surprised. I told her “See? They are good kids after all.” We exchanged the eggs for prizes which is basically a loot bag full of candies. So much for all the drama. I restrained myself from complaining to the organizers as I already saw two foreigner parents give them a feel of their thoughts early on.
To lift up RyRy’s spirit, we went back to the bouncy pirate ship — which was still open. And with all the kids already with their prizes and the parents tired from ruining this day for most kids, there were practically no one left — save for 5 kids in the bouncy thing. I told RyRy to go for it and all of a sudden there was a smile in her face. She played for a while and made friends along the process. She hung onto the slide and bounced herself high which earned a raised eyebrow from one of the people looking after the kids. I guess they were tired themselves as there was a time earlier when there were like 50 kids inside the inflatable which at most accommodates 10 kids. I told her it was time to go home and she quickly obliged and got out of the slide. Surprisingly, there was 1 kid left at the face-painting station getting her turn. RyRy said she wanted to go as well so we told her to ask the person if she could still have hers painted as well. Right then and there, they attended to her and instantly, turned her frown into a smile. I took a picture of her right before we went home.
It was a tiring day all in all and I’m glad I ate two pieces of chicken, a bowl of coleslaw, a half corn on the cob, and another bowlful of rice prior and I did hold up well. In the end, I just wanted to get the most out of the experience. My wife, who does events as well, lashed out on how disorganized the event was. I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully, if people actually get to read this, they would think of the kids first. Design everything to be — first and foremost — for the kids and not a half-baked idea just so you could rake a profit in. Okay, maybe they didn’t make something out of the event but that’s not an excuse to do away with something that felt rather inadequate. After all, I’m sure they thought of and meant this event to be for the kids — only it turned out that there were a lot of adults who were “kids at heart” that day.
As an added bonus, here’s Miguel having fun with Riley.