We are a household that doesn’t buy into the cult of Santa, which until now has only meant that I write on my blog about how we aren’t doing Santa. Previously it hasn’t mattered to T1, but this is the year that playground gossip started shaping his worldview, and around this time of year talk of Santa is all the rage around the sandbox.
We were snuggling in my bed a few weeks ago, just the two of us, when four-year-old T1 said something about Santa. I knew that this was my chance to let him in on the Grownup Secret. I don’t mind if he believes in imaginary figures (if he references Mickey Mouse or mermaids I don’t go out of my way make sure he knows that they are make-believe) but it is important to me that he doesn’t think that he is a naughty kid and therefore didn’t get any presents delivered via flying sleigh (can mom’s gifts wrapped in brown kraft paper really compete?). I’m not sure what the other kids are saying exactly, but it’s possible that he is absorbing messages that communicate he will get whatever he wants from Santa as long as he is on the nice list.
I leaned over and told him that I had a very special secret to tell him, a secret he gets to hear because he is so very grownup. I emphasized how important it is that he keep this secret to himself and not tell any of the other kids. When I said that Santa isn’t real, and that it’s a game that parents play with their kids, he smiled really big and immediately embraced the idea that he was very mature and able to handle the information. Throughout that night and the next morning he kept telling me that we need to make sure his little sister doesn’t find out the Grownup Secret because she isn’t ready for it yet. I smugly patted myself on the back and figured this meant one child down, another to go in a few years.
The next afternoon Santa came up in the car again, and I was informed that the man in the big red suit actually is real (along with the tooth fairy), and that he has proof. Obviously the secret my son and I shared was not kept close to the vest and was the topic of some intense playground discussion. T1 told me that Cora said that she wanted a unicorn for Christmas last year, and she never told anyone about it, and still it somehow found its way under her tree, so obviously Santa is real. There was also lots of talk bout teeth and the tooth fairy.
And so, this year when I was selecting the ornament I would give to T1 for 2014, I chose Santa and a small boy, skating off into the sunset together. To represent this year as the one where my kid chose a mythical Santa Claus figure over the being who actually has the power to hear and deliver on his heart’s deepest desires.