I got a call from Rebecca’s teacher yesterday. There was a “situation” that she wanted my help with. I didn’t imagine it could be too serious, since she hadn’t said anything when I saw her at pick-up, nor was there any kind of “incident report” on a random playground injury. Still, I was surprised. Rebecca is such a goody-two-shoes in school.
At circle time, the class was talking about different holidays, and how different families celebrate different things, etc. OK, fine, sounds good. Well, just as they were about to dismiss and go out to play, my girl decides to announce that “Santa doesn’t really bring presents, it’s really other people.”
That’s right. My four-year-old decided to tell all of her classmates that Santa is bullshit.
So, obviously, there’s no Santa in our house, what with trying to raise Jewish kids and all. Honestly, though Santa was something I had as a kid, I find that I’m actually quite relieved NOT to be including the man in red in our holiday celebrations. No waiting in line for hours to try to convince screamy kids to sit in a stranger’s lap, no coming up with a good story for what Santa is all about, no fallout when they get older and realize it was us all along. That said, I certainly have no beef with other families’ Santa traditions, nor do I have any desire to ruin the magic for any kid.
It’s not like my kids don’t know who Santa is. He’s freaking everywhere. They have no trouble recognizing him (much like Dora and Spongebob and other things I try to keep out of my house… you can’t avoid them). But they’ve pretty much come to see him as a character in a story, like any other. And M, well, M is a compulsive truth-teller and detail-explainer when it comes to the kids. He apparently had a talk with Rebecca the other day about exactly how and why Santa is a big, fat myth. Which, fine, I don’t mind that for my own kids in the slightest. But anyone with preschoolers knows that they have ZERO filter, and really love to trot out their newest tidbits of knowledge. Hence, the Santa truth bomb at circle time.
Ultimately, M and I each talked to the kids last night about it in an attempt to not completely ruin Christmas for all of their classmates. I talked to the chief truth-teller myself, and explained to Rebecca that different people believe different things. And that even though we know Santa is pretend, it would be nice to let her friends still believe otherwise if they want to. She mostly gave me an “OK, whatevs,” and we started talking about fairies and princesses. Daniel took in his own conversation with M, to which his immediate response was, “but WHY would their moms and dads not tell them the TRUTH?”
M is, frankly, quite proud of that one. I’m just smiling and shaking my head.
Ultimately, I think the preschool crowd has some pretty staunch Santa-believers, so I don’t think my kids’ occasional proclamations will be the death-knell for anyone’s holiday traditions this year. I’ve explained it to the degree that I wish to, I have tried to gently suggest that we not ruin the magic for their friends, and that’s as far as I’ll go.
For the record, I think that’s all the teacher was asking – she just wanted to avoid a full-scale Christmas meltdown in a class full of 3-to-5-year-olds. I sort of wish she had handled this herself, but I’m not especially bothered by it.
What do you think? How do you handle belief or disbelief in Santa at your house?