10 May 2007

Quashing Santa

Yesterday in the car, Bella asked me if Santa was real.

It’s May. She truly believes that dragons, faeries and witches are real. Who would have thought that the existence of our mythological holiday friends would questioned in the off season?

She’s also 11. Which is a little old to still unquestioningly believe in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and the like. But fantasy has always been her escape, a place she inhabits because the world hasn’t been good to her, and I didn’t want to be the one to have to crush that alternate plane of mental imagining.

Her 9 year-old brother doesn’t really believe in Santa. But what he does believe in is the relationship between Santa and presents. He knows about the causal relationship that if he outwardly shows or says he believes in Santa, there will still be presents for him under the tree on Christmas morning. He’s too afraid to say it’s not real, which might make it cease to exist. It’s a big gamble he’s not quite yet willing to take.

Bella asked me if Santa was real. I asked her what she thought (aka, brilliant parental strategy of deflection). She again asked if Santa were real and told me I had to tell her the truth. So I did.

She got really mad it me. Like it was all my fault. Like I had somehow been keeping this big, dark secret that every other kid in her class knew for an eternity. Like the first thing I should have told her when we adopted her three months ago was that Santa wasn’t real.

Apparently, she wants me to start a mental notebook of all the things adults should tell kids between the ages of 0-11 and lay it on her all at once. I'm sure that will go smashingly well.

(Addendum: On Sunday night we got to the second last chapter of Superfudge by Judy Blume. This chapter is all about how Peter pretends to write letters to Santa because his younger brother still believes in Santa. And by the end, it turns out that neither Peter nor Fudge believe in Santa and the parents also verify that Santa isn't real. Why isn't there any warning labels on the book!!! Funny thing was that Bella sat with her fingers plugging her ears repeating I'm not listening cause Santa's real.)

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