Saturday, November 19, 2011
The Santa Debate
Christmas is approaching. I am dying to decorate my house. My house looks it's best when the halls are decked. Almost all of my Christmas shopping for my children is done. I love the Christmas music in the house and car. I can't wait for a Christmas tree to shine in my living room. This year, we are getting a flocked tree and we haven't had a flocked tree in 4 years. (Myth: flocked trees are messier than regular trees. That is false. So false. The flocking actually holds the pine needles on.)
While I love this time of year, I feel so confused and conflicted. The whole Santa thing is hard for me. Flat-out lying to my children.
Since Jack has been a little boy, he has been mystified by how I can know what he is doing when I am not looking at him. You know, the whole thing how a mom has eyes behind her head. Whenever I would tell him to stop doing something and I wasn't looking at him, he would demand how I knew he was up to no good. Eventually, my response was "I have magic eyes." Over the years, he truly started to believe it. He would refer to my "magic eyes" all the time and how much he hated them because he would get caught being naughty. As parents, Ethan and I thought it was so funny to watch him fall for it. We thought it was adorable.
One night, about a year ago, Jack and I were ending a day where we had been on edge with each other endlessly. Out of no where, he looks at me and says, "Mom, are your magic eyes real or not?" I was about to give him my usual lie and say yes, but I decided to be straight up. "No son, they aren't real." His face turned to shock. Pure disappointment. He cried big fat tears, really sad ones. Through his tears, he asked, "Mom! Why would you lie to me? Why?" I felt horrible. I am his trusted parent and friend and I had betrayed his trust. Most people would tell me that it doesn't matter, he is a child. But he is a person. A person I love so much. And the truth is, I did lie to him. I had lied to him for years. I was taking advantage of his naivety for my own entertainment. Watching his reaction was too much to bear. I held him and we both cried. I apologized over and over again. What a parenting moment that was! Oh the things I learned!
I have thought a lot about this experience over the last year. It has taught me a lot about Jack. He doesn't like being duped. It hurts him badly when he finds out he has been tricked. You would think that a child with such a vast imagination would be on board with any fantasy. But I have found that he would like the reigns when things are being made up. At some point, he will want me to address the Santa issue and I know it will be sometime in the next month. I am still formulating my answer, but I do plan on telling him the truth. I can't lie to his face. I am not exactly sure how I am going to say it, but I am going to do it in a sensitive manner.
After watching Jack's reaction to my lying to him about magic eyes, I have realized I need to phase out a lot of Santa Clause in our Christmas. No letters to him or visits to the mall imposter. Do I allow letters to Santa? Of course. But I don't initiate it. We don't read "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve. We read Luke 2 instead. Santa still leaves gifts in stockings and one big gift. I feel like there will still be enough Christmas left once he knows the truth.
What does your family do to focus on the birth of Jesus during the holiday season? Have you had to address the truth about Santa Clause with any of your children? I need pointers.