Well, the cat is out of the bag.
Oh, not for me. I knew about that a long time ago. Give me some credit.
My 10 year old asked the big question last night as we were getting him ready for bed. He is in a grade 5/6 split class (due to Ontario regulations on class sizes it’s a weird setup this year – there are 4 split classes) and some of the grade 6 kids were letting other, younger kids in on the ‘scam’. I knew this question was coming eventually and had prepared myself somewhat for it. Instantly, after the question, I wanted to draw from my own experiences – how did I feel when i found out for the first time, and I couldn’t recall it at all. I have either completely suppressed the experience and it could/will come out in some devious personality quirk and/or moment of high stress and/or weakness, or it really wasn’t that eventful to me to begin with. I am hoping for the latter.
The conversation went pretty smooth. (using a lot of Sons and Dads in the language to clearly outline who is talking. We don’t talk to each other that way normally, just illustrative purposes!)
“Dad, is Santa real?”
“No, he isn’t.”
<cue tears bursting out>
“Son, its okay. I know this is hard to understand.” <hugs and fatherly comfort>
“Dad, I just feel so stupid. I used to get so excited when I got a Santa gift. It meant I was good to people and things and now I just feel so dumb”
“Son, it is important to realize the spirit of Christmas and why we do that to begin with. Maybe in the old days there really was a man who made and gave gifts out to all the good little kids, but what is important to live on is that we need to be good to one another, take care of your family, and appreciate each other. That is what the spirit of Santa is all about. And now that you know that.”
“Dad – you are telling me you would buy yourself gifts from Santa too, why would you do that?”
“It was to ensure you believed that Mom and Dad were good too.”
“Where did you hide everything Dad?”
“Not telling you son, we still use those spaces to hide other things. Surely you can see that one person, even magical, couldn’t do every single house in the world in a night, and that parents have to band together to make that happen. Magic still exists but often it is just in the way people treat one another positively.”
“What about the Easter Bunny Dad?”
“That’s me too. Kind of creepy to think there is a bunny running around our house when we are sleeping, no?”
“The Tooth Fairy came and left me $20 just last week….”
“That’s me too Son. And I didn’t have anything smaller. Trust me, I heard it from the other parents about that one too..”
And we sat and talked for a while about a whole host of topics around holidays and the things parents do to make them special for their kids. It was a really good conversation. I told him that every kid learns this at their own time and place and to try and keep it special for other kids until they learn from their parents. Some learn of this really young, some older, everyone has their own time frame. He knows there are kids on his hockey team that still do and decided that it was best to let them enjoy it while they could.
My son is also a bit of a smartass sometimes, and the next day when he was waiting for his bus outside of our house and I drove past him to go to work I put my window down, told him that I loved him and that I hoped he had an awesome day at school and that I would see him afterwards.
gave a huge smile, and off I went.
Maybe he is going to turn out ok afterall.