It all started with the Tooth Fairy, which is where I think this sequelae often begins. Savanna lost a tooth last week and expected a magical visit. Yours truly forgot. It was Friday night, and I fell asleep after pizza and Homeland. Also, I was over the Tooth Fairy thing.
Hear me out. My daughter is 10 years old and had written a list of requests: money, a stuffed animal, and a necklace. Maybe something else, I can’t be sure.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve done it all-the money, tooth fairy letters, even pictures and gifts. My glitter is fading. It’s time to retire my wand, so I forgot. Probably selectively.
The next day, she walked into my closet a little disappointed and let me know that SHE KNOWS the deal.
Her: It’s you, I know it is. There is no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. It was you!
Me: Maybe you should say thank you then!
*Her expression was a mixture of triumph and slight disappointment. No tears. Had she been deeply disappointed, I would’ve kept the magic alive.*
That was the end of our conversation, at least for several hours. We had a basketball game, a big victory, and a party in between…..but her wheels began turning at dinner and spiraled into heartbreak by bedtime.
Her: The Easter Bunny isn’t real, either. There’s no giant bunny who hops around the world on Easter. That’s so stupid.
Me: You are right.
Her: But Santa Claus, he’s real, right?
Mike: Of course Santa Claus is real!
Me: Yes! Santa is real. Who wants dessert?
Fast forward an hour.
Her: MOMMY. Is there anything else I need to know? Just tell me. Is Santa real? Or is it you?
Her: MOMMY. TELL ME if you are lying to me. Just TELL ME.
Me: Savanna. Yes, it’s me. I am Santa. I love you.
Friends, my daughter fell apart. The kid was devastated. She cried and told me how disappointed and angry she felt that we had “lied” to her all these years. I worked hard to create magic for her, and she believed all of it.
I’d like to tell you I made the right decision by answering her question that night, but I’m not sure. Looking back, I think she was actually asking me for reassurance-not the truth. She wanted me to reassure her that Santa WAS real.
Nowadays, Christmas traditions are SO much more than Santa. We have the Elf for 30 days, the Santa Tracker, Santa videos tailored for our children, Santa Claus phone calls, and even photo shopped Santa photos. It’s easy to for children to fully believe with such proof. When we create lots of magic, there’s lots to lose.
Of course, I explained to her that Santa Claus is a symbol of joy, anticipation, love, and generosity, and that we use Santa to teach children to believe in things not seen. I told her that we have to believe in the things we can not see with our eyes-love, faith, hope, God, and even talent at times. I talked about all the things I had always planned on saying. Is that what she wanted to hear? Nope. She wanted Santa and the whole sleigh.
It felt like a death had occurred at our house that night. I held her hand while she fell asleep in tears. Then, I walked downstairs feeling like an asshole because maybe the magical Christmas I created over the past 10 years was just a setup for disappointment.
You may think, “How is she 10 and still believing in Santa?” She fully believed because she trusted me and believed everything we told her. Let’s just say I worked hard to protect this whole thing with personalized videos, phone calls, and letters. The works. It was too much. Had I realized that her Santa Claus beliefs would ultimately end in grave disappointment, I would have toned it down. Alot. The less magical stuff we create, the less there is to lose later.
Sometimes, parenting is really hard. I never saw this one coming at all. I went to bed questioning myself about everything related to parenting and the holidays. Mothering is a perpetual exercise in letting go so that our children can grow. We let go a little with a full day of Kindergarten. We let go a little with the first sleepover. There are hundreds of little “letting go” events that we have to endure for the best of our children, and I find that hard at times. Now, we let go of an old belief that brought big joy.
That’s all from this South Florida mom blogger today, folks. Last night when I tucked Savanna in, I shut her bedroom door and heard her yell, “Good night, Santa!” And I knew she was OK. We’re all OK, but I could use a break from Christmas until next year. Ciao for now! Love, Santa.