Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Are You There Santa? It's Me, Margaret.

Growing up sucks. That's why I never did. Yesterday at 4pm, I got the text message from my daughter I'd been dreading for years:

"Mom r u Santa Claus? I would be fine with whatever u say. its just everyone @ school keeps saying how their parents told them they were santa c."

My heart stopped beating and I marched into the next office to show the message to a colleague.

Me: "I don't want to go home tonight."

Colleague: "My twelve year old never asked. He just kind of slid into enlightenment on his own."

Me: "Can I spend the night here?"

I e-mailed Deadly DeLeon. She was very sympathetic.

Jana: "Christ! Do you home school or something? How old is she? I was 6 or 7 when I knew!"

I pulled into the driveway with sweaty palms and a thumping heart. Couldn't we just do the sex talk again? I opened the door and she was on me. I stalled like a mature adult.

Once we were alone, I asked her what happened at school. Margaret said her best friends said their parents told them it was them, not Santa, who put out presents. (BTW - THANKS L and A.)

The aforementioned sweaty palms began to itch as I watched my daughter burst into tears.

Me (with great maturity): Um, why are you crying?

Margaret (between sobs): Because I want to know!

Me (trying a little psychology): Do you? Do you really?

Margaret: I don't know! Maybe I don't!

Me: you want to know so you won't get teased or are you afraid to find out he may not be real? (Is it obvious that I had no idea what the hell I was doing?)

Margaret: I want to believe. But I also want to know.

For a moment, I toyed with using Pascal's Wager. Then I thought about showing her Miracle on 42nd Street. Instead, I had her read that letter from 8 year old Virginia who wrote the newspaper in 1897 asking if Santa was real.

Have you looked at that lately? While it is a charming piece...Francis Pharcellus (Pharcellus?)Church wrote, "Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!"

Um, fairies?

It is interesting to note that my friends all suggested I be vague and insist he's real. Others said, "If you don't believe in Santa, you don't get presents from Santa!" And it occurred to me, that while we are supposed to discuss sex with our children with biological bluntness and a frightening amount of scientific precision, we are supposed to not have to explain Santa this way or even at all. In fact, most kids just kind of figure it out and keep it to themselves. That's what happened to me.

Why would parents tell their kids outright that there is no Santa...that it's them putting the presents under the tree? A friend just texted that she thinks it's lazy parenting. I kind of agree with that but I also think it borders on child abuse. They are telling their kids that there is no magic left in the world (and believe me, I'd rather believe that sex is "magic" than biology).

So, I told Margaret to tell her friends that I believe in Santa and dare them to talk to me about it (I am, after all, their all omnipotent Girl Scout leader) and that parents are really Santa's helpers. I was beyOND vague.

She liked that answer.

It sucks growing up.

The Assassin


Mr. Assassin said...

I am glad I am deployed. That is a tough one.

Leona said...

Wow, my kids came home in kindergarten and said I was wrong there was no Santa. I ended up falling back on he was a legend and I'm helping keep the tradition alive.

For pete's sake! Why are kids so cruel!

Leslie Langtry said...

Gee, thanks honey.
Leona, kids are cruel because they like to make people cry. Or maybe that's just me...

TerriOsburn said...

My 10 yr old still believes in the tooth fairy, so I'm pretty sure she still believes in Santa. I have no plans to enlighten her on either character anytime soon. Why would parents do that?!

Not sure what I'd do if she asked, but I'm pretty good at *pretending* for her benefit. After all, I'm nice to her father as often as I can manage.

Kristi said...

I feel for you.
My daughter just turned 12. She hasn't asked this year but she has in the past because of classmates telling her he doesn't exist and I told her that as long as she believes Santa comes.

I'm assuming she's figured it out because she didn't even do the letter to Santa this year.

My husband wanted to tell her 2 years ago so she wouldn't get teased, but it's such a magical time for a kid I didn't want to spoil it for her.

MsHellion said...

My mom ruined it for me. I was 6, I think, or perhaps a whole 7. I'm not sure (I'm betting on the 6 though--a lot of stuff was ruined around that age.)

I remember sobbing and upset--because I think it was that I wanted a Pony for Christmas (which incidentally I asked for every Christmas, regardless of Santa) and when my mom said, "You're not getting one", I said, "I am going to ask SANTA for one." As if by going above Mom's head to SANTA would get me my pony.

To which she put me in my place by saying, "Santa does not exist. You're too old to believe in Santa! That's not even what Christmas is about!" And then I think she launched into a diatribe about how I was going to hell for believing all these non-Christian traditions, like Halloween and Santa Claus. (Keeping a list yet? That's right: I have neuroses about "being old", "going to hell" and "crappy childhood".)

So I was crying in the living room, completely despondent, and my older brother (he's 30 at the time; I was an Oops baby) comes in and finds me pathetic on the couch. "What's wrong?"

"Mom told me there is no Santa Claus. That he never existed." Then I burst into tears again.

Now this should be noted--because it's possibly the only truly nice thing my brother's ever done for me: he went to the Encyclopedia and pulled down the letter S and looked up Santa Claus. Then he read it out to me and showed me Santa Claus DID EXIST (or had existed, whatever) and that when people give gifts from Santa Claus they are simply carrying on the tradition of Christmas, of giving gifts without strings, just to make others happy.

So I still believe in Santa Claus and my mom can just suck it.

LuAnn said...

I still believe in Santa ... no matter what anyone says. I love that letter you mention "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa." When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a little book of Christmas carols and that letter was on the back. I read it over and over ... hmmm, maybe that's why I still believe?

Keri Ford said...

wait there's no Santa? Boy, there is at my house. He still fills up my stocking every year.

Santa NEVER fills the hubby's though. I feel sorry for him, even though the husband was probably naughty and that's why he got skipped over. In the morning before hubby gets out of bed, I fill my husband's stocking with goodies. *g*

Leslie Langtry said...

I still believe too. I wondered if she would get teased but you're right, why take away one of the fun things about being a kid?

catslady said...

I did the "as long as you believe there is a santa claus". Basically they believed it at least partially - I always made sure they got something that mom would never approve of lol.

Tori Lennox said...

If there's no Santa Claus why does he still bring me presents every year (it should be noted here that I'm in my 40s *g*)? Hmm? Answer me that, Margaret's friends!

Suzan Harden said...

I feel for you, Leslie. I was soooo glad DH got to field the question.

Brandy said...

Our Daughter, who is now fourteen, slid into the knowledge. We still haven't said anything and she helps us perpetrate the magic of Santa for her seven year old brother. Santa is magic, myth, tradition and even hope. To take that away? Well, that's just wrong. Children need to hang onto all of those for as along as possible. Even we adults do, too.

Leslie Langtry said...

Thanks guys! Can I send Margaret to your house for the next tough question? I'll send cookies!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

My daughter is 9 and this has been coming up on and off for a couple of years now. I've not had the heart to fess up so I do the "if you believe, he will come" line. Eventually they will figure it out, and it's my son I feel sorry for because his bubble will be burst that much sooner than my daughter's...

Elle J Rossi said...

Great post! My 7 year old daughter asked me in front of my 4 year old son. I practically leapt across the room, tackled her to ground and muzzled her. We had a very long private talk after that. I'm pretty sure she still "sorta" believes.

Santa is magic and without magic...what's the point?


Gillian Layne said...

This was my year for the painful question and answer,too. My baby is 10. And there was no "Yes, I believe," cause she wasn't having any of it. Finally I hugged her, trying not to bawl myself, and pointed out to her that she had filled several boxes worth of toys she really never touched to send to kids in Africa--and how did that make her feel, when I never asked her to do that? That, I said, is Santa and magic, and part of growing up is being a part of the magic.

I was just winging it. I'd like to sprinkle magic fairy dust on all my girls and turn them all three years old again each holiday season.