One of my most dreaded ‘parent-child’ conversations ended up being one of my favorites. It was the, “Is Santa for real?” conversation. Ugh. Our parental strategy was to avoid the topic until our son brought it up. We wanted him to believe in the magic of Christmas forever but realistically, that would have been stupid.
One day, out of the blue, my then 8 or 9 year old (that’s how memorable it was…I can’t even remember his age), asks, “Mom, is Santa Claus for real? Tell me the truth.” Well, ok. Since he asked for the truth, my grand plan to lie to him was foiled. So the conversation went a little something like this:
Me: “You want the truth? Are you sure you want the whole truth?”
Me: “Once I tell you the truth, we can’t go back. You really want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” OK, I really didn’t say that last line. But I cracked myself up typing it.
Son: “Just tell me mom.”
It was a bittersweet moment for me. He was growing up right in front of my eyes and it sucked. I explained to him that Santa does not visit every child’s house on Christmas Eve, that he does not have elves or reindeer or a workshop or a home at the North Pole, in fact, the whole Santa Tracker thing is a scam. I told him we bought the presents, we wrapped them up, we ate the cookies and we tossed the gross, room temperature milk he left out for Santa. I confessed that we chewed up carrots and spit them out on the lawn…not Santa’s reindeer. We made the footprints in the snow, not Santa. We wrote the ‘thank you for the cookies’ letter from Santa in that fancy, ‘looks nothing like mom’s’ handwriting. Then I got pretty philosophical on him about Christmas. We talked about being thankful (I know, I know, that’s Thanksgiving), we talked about the story of Jesus, we talked about being with family, giving to others, and again, being thankful (I think that’s important).
He looked at me as thoughtfully as an 8 or 9 year old could look at a parent who just turned their world upside down, and asked a very clever follow up question:
Son: “I kinda thought that about Santa. Some kids were talking about it at school…….(long pause)…..But the Easter Bunny is real, right?”
Me: Thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me little boy? You want me to ruin all that is good in life in this one conversation?” Like any fabulous parent, I replied, “Honey, do you really think there is a 6 foot rabbit that comes to our house and hops around hiding plastic eggs everywhere for you to find?”
Son (looking very perplexed): “Well, I guess not. So that’s you and dad, too?”
Me: “Yes, honey.”
Me: “Yes bud.”
Son (reluctantly asked): “What about the Tooth Fairy?”
I gave him some kind of pathetic, defeated look because he said to me, “You’re the Tooth Fairy, aren’t you?” I nodded my head. He then inquired, “Where do you keep your Tooth Fairy outfit?”
That was a rough conversation for all of us but looking back, it was one of my favorite, most memorable talks (so far, anyway). Santa and the Easter Bunny still stop by each year (wink, wink) although the Tooth Fairy stopped visiting when my son told me point-blank to keep my change.