Mama, Is Santa Real?
There are certain milestones in parenting that kick you in the gut. I remember one such day so clearly.
My littlest came running in showing the tiny little tooth that came out. It was her first – and my last ‘first tooth’ experience. There is something about these little moments that make you savor them. She was jumping up and down with excitement and the fact that the Tooth Fairy was coming her way. The Tooth Fairy!! I gave her a big hug and sent her off to write THE letter with a little tear in my eye.
That’s when my oldest turned to me and said, “The Tooth Fairy, hmmm.”
“What do you mean?” I asked in a gentle inquisitive tone.
He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mama, I don’t think she’s real. She isn’t a real fairy, right?” I felt the air leave my lungs in a massive sigh.
I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t lie on the big things just to keep them going for my sake. Now was that moment. Would I keep it going or would I fess up?
“No, Bub. She’s isn’t real.”
His head hung low and while his chin pointed down, his eyes looked up.
“Is Santa real? What about the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns and the elves – they are all fake. They are all lies,” he said with a whisper and the tears welled along the edge his dark bottom lashes.
“Not lies,” I said. That was all I could muster and I knew I had to think quickly and yet, be truthful and comforting all at once. I remembered this story I read from a mom in the same situation and I knew where to go.
“Not really lies, just stories to teach you about different lessons when you are young. Santa? He teaches us about the joy of giving. It is so hard to teach a baby or toddler about that joy because they are too young to understand. We teach them how much fun it is to receive a surprise. Once you are old enough, you get to experience the truly special part – giving.”
He looked at me with a quizzical look and I could see his wheels turning.
“Just to get you in the spirit this year, I want you to listen to the stories of those around you. Find someone who really needs something and cannot get it for themselves. You have a budget of $30. When you figure out who and what, we will go get the gift and then you can secretly leave it for them.”
Now his eyes lit up. “Anyone?”
“Yes, anyone!” I cheered.
“Ok. What about my sister? Can I help keep the secret for her until she is ready?”
“Absolutely! You will see how much fun it is to be part of the surprise!”
With that, his energy changed and mine did, too.
These milestones come along – sometimes you get 5 in a day – and we figure out how to navigate them on the fly. There is no right way, just our way and that is the beauty we pass along to our kids. Since that day, he and I have planned for the Easter Bunny, Santa, our Elf on the Shelf and we’ve placed little wrapped packages on friend’s doorsteps, delivering something he just knew they needed or wanted.
I’ve come to realize that celebrating on this side of the bridge is a lot of fun as well. Watching your child appreciate the Spirit of Giving is the greatest gift of all. Yes, Santa is real and his spirit lives in us all.
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