Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa Stories

I honestly don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, or why. Did I spy my parents putting gifts under the tree? Did some adult let something slip? Or did it just all gradually become too fantastical to make sense any more? At some point we grow to a point where, sadly, the magic of childhood disappears.

Today was a close call, but I am so relieved to say that Little Boo hasn't yet grown to that point.

At the end of the last day of school before the holiday break, the kids were all excited and talking about Santa. All of these precious little 7 year-olds in second grade. And then it happened. One of these wee children announced, "Santa's not real." And he insisted on repeating this over and over within earshot of the whole class.

I don't know how the other kids reacted or what they thought, but Boo told me about it and how he stood up for Santa. "How could he say that, Mommy? What's his problem?" Boo tried to convince him that Santa is real, providing evidence of course. Boo is nothing if not logical. He told his classmate about the video messages and emails he gets from Santa each year, about how NORAD tracks his voyage each Christmas Eve. But the response remained the same, "Santa's not real."

I asked about the teacher. She apparently just told Boo to step away and leave it. I feel for her to be honest. What could she possibly say to this kid? After all, he's right. The teacher has no way to know what the other parents have said to their kids about Santa Claus. The best she could hope was to end the discussion and perhaps speak to the child in private afterwards.

What's a mom to do? Seven is so young to stop believing, and I feel sad for the other little boy. And at the same time I am so relieved that his disbelief didn't sway my believing child. Then there's the perennial question - why do we tell our kids these stories in the first place? Is it for us or them?

I think it's a bit of both. The wonder and joy that come from a belief in Santa Claus are a truly special part of childhood, at least in my opinion. How we take advantage of that belief to teach our children about the importance of giving, and later morph that belief into a broader idea of a spirit of love and generosity are important parts of who our children will become.

Right now I just hope we have a couple more years of this wonder left.

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