Here is another oldie, circa 2009. This child hasn't changed a bit and is now getting ready to enter her freshman year of high school. It's a great illustration of how we can't control our kids. At. All.
The shame. I am the mom of the kid who “outed” Santa to another kid in her third grade class. From what I understand, the conversation went something like this: Friend: Do you believe there is a Santa? Daughter: (eyeroll) It’s so obvious it’s just your parents.
Thankfully, the friend was overheard later commiserating with another child, both of them deciding that my daughter is the delusional one and there is indeed a Santa Claus. So I think I may have just barely escaped being the pariah of Newbury Elementary for now.
My daughter has never believed in Santa. As a three-year-old strapped in the backseat of the car as we drove to Maryland to visit her grandparents one Christmas, she piped up and said there was no way Santa was real, because it took a whole day just to get to grandma’s and we didn’t even leave the East coast. I told her it was magic, and she said there was no such thing.
As a person who spends more time in daydreams – or denial – than in reality, I was saddened that my wee girl was so grounded in logic. She has never been a fanciful child. Her imagination is wonderful, but limited to things that could probably happen in real life. I tried to get her to believe in fairies by leaving tiny notes from fairies written with sparkly ink and festooned with glitter on her bedside. While she liked getting them, she maintained that I must have left them there while she was sleeping.
She also must tell the truth. On the surface, this does not seem like a problem. But when it comes to matters of Santa and the magical realm, it’s sticky. We had a chat about how many children believe in Santa, and it’s not her place to rain on their Christmas parade. Playing along is one thing, she pointed out, but if someone asks her if she believes she will not lie.
I must say I have to agree with her. I cannot expect her to lie when asked outright what her take on the Santa situation is.
As an informal poll of how other people feel, I posted the story as a Facebook status update. The responses ranged from moms saying they’d be upset if their child found out about Santa from a kid at school to suggestions for how my daughter can “white lie” to a mom who said she’d be relieved to have the whole charade overwith since her son was asking awkward questions about Santa’s ability to bring very expensive gifts.
As a parent, it’s my job to teach my children to tell the truth and also to be sensitive and compassionate toward other people. In situations like Santa, it’s very hard to do both. My sons still believe, and so far they haven’t asked my daughter what her position on Santa is. I would not be all that upset if she told them the truth, but then we don’t make a big deal of Santa in our house anyway, being of limited means, and it was not a big deal when I was growing up. I was lucky to even have a Santa stocking, given that my mother repeatedly reminded us that Santa was nothing but an anagram for Satan, who was trying to take over the holiness of Christmas – but that is a story for another day.
In the end, I hope my children are never responsible for ruining the magic and wonder of a child’s innocent believe in Santa Claus. We constantly talk about other people’s feelings and thinking before speaking, and all I can do is send them into the world believing I have taught them right – to be kind and truthful.
In the meantime, I will get through the next few weeks with apologies at the ready, should the conversation go awry again. And “Santa” will still visit our house on Christmas Eve for all good children who tell the truth.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and elementary high-ability teacher. Her first novel, Cate in Flux, was released December 10! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.