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: So...do 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!"
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.