Monday, December 1, 2008

Close Call

We are rolling right along here with holiday prep and gift making. I had a hairy deadline at work so the making had to be put on hold for a bit. Last week my oldest came home from school- he is in third grade- asking if Santa was real. There were kids in his class that were telling him that he wasn't ,though that is certainly not a new occurence. We have been dealing with it a bit off and on for a year or two. One kid told him there was no Santa and he asked how he knew and the kid told him he had spoken with 50 scientists and thats how he knew. Interesting. So my husband was tucking him in that night and he kept asking him. My husband is less entrenched in the fantasy that is Christmas so he was feeling pressured to tell him "the truth". My son is a kid who wants to believe. He likes to make fairy houses and leave notes for the tooth fairy and he really gets into the fun magical aspect of these things. Given how much he enjoys it and the fact that I truly believe that he wants very much to believe, I have taken the approach that I continue to encourage him to believe. My husband on the other hand thinks we are losing our credibility because we are basically lying to him. I have thought long and hard about this and I disagree. I think he will be able to distinguish the magic of the storytelling from us being liars. But that is sort of beside the point. This particular night he was really going on and on about it. My husband was putting him to bed and came and got me to see what we should tell him. I ended up going into his room with him and we had a talk about it- why he thinks his friends don't believe and more symbolically what Santa represents. Then he says , a few times, that he just really wants to know if Santa is real and he would be o.k. with whatever we told him. So against my better instincts with this kid, I relented and told him, sort of nebulously, that the parents help with the presents. He immediately started sobbing and said, "That makes me think that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy might not be real either!" I felt so so horrible because in my heart of hearts, I knew he wasn't ready to let go of the Santa fantasy. We back pedaled a bit and said that the parents do the presents to help. He was so crushed. And then I was so crushed! We got him calmed down enough to go to sleep but I just could not let it go. I talked to my husband Ebeneezer and told him that I think the whole credibility thing was a bunch of crap and that we needed to fix what we could so that he could feel better about things. I should include that this kid is a special sort of sensitive. He is a feeler to his core and he truly enjoys living in a world where fairies leave him notes and Santa eats the cookies he leaves out on Christmas. So the next day I picked him up from school and told him that I had done some research about it and what I found out is that Santa is real. When Santa started out, there weren't half the kids there are now so getting presents to all of them on Christmas was fairly doable . But now with so many more kids all spread out around the world, he takes all the help he can get. He already knows that Santa can't be in every mall in the U.S. so he has helpers for that so this seemed a plausible thing. I told him that Santa watches to make sure the parents take care of the Christmas morning gifts and if he knows they are, he can focus on the kids who might not have a family or means to do that for them. So since he knows we have it covered, he will keep an eye on our kids but he knows he can focus on kids who need it. He got so excited and was so relieved so I really didn't feel badly about digging myself deeper into the Santa trap. I also told him that it would explain why some kids think Santa doesn't exist because they think their folks do the presents but they don't know the whole story. The next night we went to the mall for dinner and to see Santa and he sat on his lap and was all lit up. Afterwards he told me that he knew that was the real Santa. I can't tell you how relieved I am that he can have another year or two with the Santa thing. I think when the truth comes out he will not be mad because he will know how much fun he had with it. Atleast I hope thats how he sees it. I just think kids grow up too freaking fast these days and he wasn't ready.

7 comments:

Maija said...

Brilliant plan! We made the mistake with our first child, thinking he wanted to know (we didn't want him to feel foolish). WRONG!
He's 17 and still reminds us every Christmas how we burst his bubble!!!
Keep the spirit alive!
ox

Lori said...

I remember the night my sister and I found out that Santa, the Tooth Fairy et al weren't real. We were quite a bit older than L, and it was a bit devastating. I agree... keep the spirit alive... I just have to come up with a strategy to handle that question in our household. I can feel the edges of the Santa question starting to stir.

Jennifer Paganelli said...

Mo...I tell you I was right there with you reliving the nightmare ...we told ours prematurely....You are the best mom ever...

Kim G. said...

I agree, kids grow up too fast these days!! WAY too fast. I am glad you came up with a way to keep Santa alive for him, last night we put the tree lights on and Audrey thought it was pure magic. I wish they could stay little forever. I'll keep your story in mind when I have to cross the Santa bridge with my little ones someday.

Mary said...

OMGoodness! The pitfalls of parenthood. I certainly don't envy you one bit, but it sounds like you managed to make the best of the situation. We all need to believe in Santa and fairies, flying reindeer and pixie dust.

julochka said...

what a sweet story. i'm glad you were able to rescue it for him. childhood should last as long as possible and all too often these days it doesn't. glad you'll have another couple of years and i'll bet the magic will always remain because it's a good story you wove into it.

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