Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Santa dilemma

(Photo taken at Parents' Night Out)

Cuddlebug and Bearhug never really showed any interest in Santa Claus until they saw the Polar Express movie (I think they were 5). Even then, they were more interested in the train, but Santa had some relevance to them as the person the train was taking the children in the movie to go see.

That year, they kept asking if a train was going to stop in our front yard to go see Santa. I hated to disappoint them, but there really is no way to pull that one off. Then they asked if Santa was going to leave them a bell like he did in the movie, and *that* I could do so I got some jingle bells and red ribbon, and left one for each of them (even though Bitty was too young to care). On Christmas morning, they barely noticed the presents from Santa (they didn't really distinguish what was from him vs. everything else) but they were soo excited about those bells!

Last year, they were busy devising all kinds of plans to "prove" Santa's existence. We travelled last year for Christmas and I figured the game was up when they stumbled on the jingle bells I had hidden (not well enough apparently) in my suitcase. :/ But on Christmas morning they had either forgotten, not made the connection, or decided not to let on.

A couple of weeks ago, the topic of Santa came up again. They wanted to know if he is real.

"And tell us da TROOF!" they insisted, "because we don't fink he's real!"

They are 8 years old and in 3rd grade. They seemed to have already figured it out and I couldn't in good conscience not tell them at this point and risk them being teased for still believing in Santa at an age when many of their peers will already know he's not real (at least not in the literal sense, one could argue that the spirit of giving embodied in "Santa" is real but I digress).

So I 'fessed up. They seemed disappointed. Apparently they were very disappointed... because several times since then they have commented how much they wish he was real. :/ I told them he was based on a real person, St. Nicholas, and that seemed to cheer them up a bit.

The downside of filling them in has been trying to emphasize the importance of keeping it to themselves. Being that they have never been big fans of "pretend play" it bothers them to pretend that Santa is real when they now know that he isn't. And them being them, we knew they'd feel inclined to announce that to anyone they heard talking about Santa. So we had to explain how we don't want to spoil the experience for younger kids who believe in Santa. They didn't quite get that (how can you spoil it if he's not real anyway?) but they have fortunately not had many opportunities to set the record straight, at least that we have seen.

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Anonymous said...

Oooh, that's a tough one. I hope they have a wonderful Christmas anyway!

Rebecca on December 23, 2009 at 1:13 PM said...

Awww... they all grow up and find out, I'm thankful mine are not asking those questions yet....

My Three Sons on December 23, 2009 at 2:19 PM said...

I was in 3rd grade when I found out. My teacher was really mad at our class because we were getting ready for Christmas break and were pretty wild and she shouted it out in anger. A lot of us didn't know the truth and were crushed. That ended up being her last year teaching there.

K on December 24, 2009 at 12:58 AM said...

oooh that one is a toughie !!!!
I think you handled it really really well by the way
Oh and I am in India - which is why the lack of posts

Anonymous said...

Awww :( I doin't think my little guy "gets" the whole Santa thing, and my baby girl is too little yet.

That picture is adorable though!!

Marie on December 24, 2009 at 8:44 AM said...

That's a tricky one!
Jack's not really into Santa yet and I still feel a bit funny enticing him into "believing" only to later tell him it was not true. The dilemna of parenting, right?

lonestar on December 24, 2009 at 12:28 PM said...

@Julie - you too!

@Rebecca - I know... I'm hoping they'll decide they want to help play the role of Santa for Bitty, we'll see.

@My Three Sons - wow, I would be pretty upset if our kids had found out that way. :( I bet there were a lot of complaints.

@K - hope you have a safe trip and a very happy holiday!

@mykidsarefun - thanks :)

@Marie - when the boys accused me of "lying" about Santa I told them it's not lying, it's pretending. They're into Pokemon so I said just like it's fun to pretend that Pokemon are real, it's also fun to pretend that Santa is real. They haven't accused me of lying since then so I think they got it :).


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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