Friday, December 29, 2006

Icon Insanity

'Tis the season for Santa...and the Easter Bunny...and the Tooth Fairy....and other nonsense like that.

This month has been a little challenging. Not so much because we bought a house and had the whole flood insurance fiasco to deal with. Not so much because my MIL keeps telling people, "They have a TON of space!" and we only have an 1,100 square foot house. It's empty, for goodness sake. Of course it looks like we have a ton of space! (I'm a little concerned people - a.k.a. his family - are going to try to buy things for us or give us stuff before we've had a chance to decide what our collective style is.)

No, the challenge, once again has been Santa. And this post was actually prompted by The Tooth Fairy but one myth at a time.

SPOILER: If you happen to be a believer in the "magic of Santa" and all these other "creatures," please leave now before I dash your beliefs on the ground and run over it with my car.

You see, earlier this month I took Daughter to get her hair done. I waited for her and watched as she talked with everyone around her. One woman - who I do not see regularly at the salon - said something to her that prompted Daughter to run to me. "Mommy, mommy! Can I go see Santa?!"

I looked at her, my eyes bugging out, then I looked up at the grinning culprit and asked her, "What IS your problem?!" Everyone laughed but you best believe I was not thrilled.

You see if you have not guessed by now, let me make myself perfectly clear: I DO NOT TEACH SANTA TO MY CHILDREN.

To make matters worse, the woman sitting next to me was waiting with her daughters. They were like 9 and 12 years old. She leans on her knee as she watches Daughter and says, "What's wrong?"

"I don't lie to my children."

"Ohhhh! Stop. Let's stop there." She looks back at her daughter and loudly whispers to me, "We still believe."

I just smile at her. It's not my problem, I want to say. Blame that grinning woman over there who thought it cute to tell my Daughter to come ask me to take her to see Santa. I only tell Daughter, "Daughter, daughter. What? What are you talking about? Don't you need to go back and get your hair done? We'll talk later."

It's quite simple actually. The world is full of marvelous things. Wondrous things. Things we don't understand. They are still discovering creatures under the sea. Do we need to make stuff up to give kids magic? I say no. As the woman sitting next to me continues to talk, I tell her something to this effect as I remind her that our Savior is supposed to be the focus. Helping others and being with family - that's part of the joy of this time. That is what I teach my babies. After all, have you seen the face of a kid who found out the truth after sincerely believing? Pretty heartwrenching. I saw it a couple of years ago when Husband's family thought it cute to do that Santa crap though I never gave them any indication that that was how I rolled. (Aside: Families. Take your cue from the parents. Please. Don't try to stuff your beliefs and fantasies down a kid's throat that YOU did not give birth to or adopt or what have you. You are just making work for the parents who have to live with this. It's NOT funny.)

So the in-laws tried to threaten Son with, "You'd better be good or Santa won't bring you anything." Ugh! I did not tell them to say such things. I had never planned to discuss the Santa thing until I felt I had to and now I had to. "Son, Christmas is about Jesus' birthday. It's about us celebrating the fact that God gave us a way out of our sins. It's about family and helping others. The presents you get? Mommy and daddy and other family members buy them because we love you and God gave us the ability to take care of you in this way. This is Christmas. Santa is just the face some people choose to put on it but he is not real. The people in the malls are in costume." He was sad. He wanted to believe. And the question was do I dash his faith now or later?

Mind you, I was not raised not to believe in Santa nor did anyone try to make it like he was real. I don't know how to explain it. My parents managed to make the time magical anyway because every Christmas I'd see those presents and wonder where the heck they came from. Could there be a Santa? But we don't have a chimney. Did my parents leave the door unlocked? Isn't that dangerous? Eventually I concluded it couldn't be and eventually I figured out how they were sneaking the presents in. That part of the mystery died and yes, that was too bad but I had years of fun trying to figure out how they did it because it HAD to be them. That much I knew. And my kids? Well, we wrap some stuff, put them under the tree and then hold on to some stuff to pull out after they go to sleep. They have been amazed at the overnight growth of the presents every year. I can imagine the thrill my parents got just sneaking around like that and now I get to do it for my own. I love it. This is Christmas to me. I love the lights. I love the cookies. I love how everyone is home a lot more. I love the kids bugging me to buy stuff as I ignore them and then seeing them so happy to get whatever they get. I don't need Santa to pull this off for me.

Son got past it and now Daughter will to. She had a moment where I was unsure. The presents weren't under the tree yet.

"Is Santa going to bring us presents," she asked.

"Daughter...." I tried to warn her.

"Yes, Santa is going to bring us presents."

My kid is 3 and knows exactly what she is doing and saying at all times. She watched me as she said this. "Daughter, come one. Give me a break. You know there is no Santa."

"Yes, Santa," she decided as she went her merry way.

"No Santa."

"Santa, Santa, Santa."

I had to laugh at her. A few days later as we picked out the paint colors for her room at the paint store, the woman asked her if Santa was going to bring her anything.

"Santa's not real!" she yelled at her. The woman gasped. That's my girl.

Now, what about the Tooth Fairy, you ask? Well, Son knew that was a myth before the Santa thing happened. But this week he lost 2 teeth. The first one came out a couple of days ago. Son woke me as I felt him crawling into bed with us.

"Son, what's going on," I asked groggily.

"Come here. I have to show you something." He moved to turn on the light.

"Don't you dare!" I hissed at him. I looked at the clock. "It's 3 in the morning! What do you want me to see?"

"Just come on," he waved at me. I refused to get up. "I have to get up soon. Just tell me."

"My tooth came out and I put it under my pillow but you didn't come." My word. Who knew that by killing the fake stuff, I was somehow increasing my own magical abilities in the mind of my child. "Honey, how can I come if I don't know?" I suppose it's my job to just somehow always know. Well, that's what mommy's do, right? Right.


Colleen said...

I give you a lot of credit for NOT teaching your kids about Santa. I don't have kids, but if I did I would want them to know the truth behind holidays, not all the silly nonsense that most kids are taught! :)

theresa said...

I always told my kids that Santa was pretend and we would pretend that Santa was coming. We would read The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve and get all excited about Santa coming, but they knew the real reason for Christmas and we would read the story of baby Jesus too. Now that my kids are grown they tell me that they are glad I never lied to them and they are glad that they got to enjoy the excitement of Santa like their friends.

As for the toothfairy, same thing. I told them that the tooth fair was imaginary and that we will pretend that she comes and leaves money.

Funny thing, all three of my children are extremely creative.

One is a professional artist; one is a writer; and one creates computer stuff.

Oh how I miss those days with young children!!!!!

Monica said...

Theresa, I like the way you put it. They can pretend until the cows come home. That's cool. And we can act as silly as we please. I just don't want to mess with their heads regarding what is real and what isn't if I know the honest truth. As far as I am concerned, they are on their own now and I can go along with whatever charade they want to play each year. At least I know I won't have to explain why Santa didn't bring that oh so special thing they told no one but him that they wanted.