So when you become a parent, there's no contract that you sign, at least, not if you're giving birth biologically. It's just bam... nine months and a whole lot of pushing and pain later, and, yeah, you're a parent. No paperwork required. (Well, minimum paper work required).
But if there was some sort of contract or agreement that you had to sign off on, I wonder what the Santa Clause Clause would state. What advice it would offer, or what guidelines it would give for handling the whole Santa Clause ordeal. Our daughter is nine now... old enough that she is questioning the whole Santa thing. But they don't tell you in childbirth or parenting classes what to do nine years down the road. Out at dinner a few weeks back, our daughter asked us point blank whether or not Santa exists. My husband and I exchanged looks, giving each other the non-verbal go ahead. The time had I arrived.
"Kaliah," Rashieme began. And he proceeded to explain to her that Santa Clause is a made-up tradition and not a reality.
She had to have seen this coming. A few years ago, stuck in the conundrum of what to do in light of the fact that my daughter had been very well behaved all year, and yet had asked for a ridiculous amount of expensive gifts that were definitely beyond my capabilities to provide, I took an innovative approach in trying to balance her belief in Santa with her trust in his judgment of her excellent behavior, and to resolve that with the fact that she would not be getting everything she requested on her wish list, even though she had definitely been good, and not naughty. I told her that Santa leaves a bill. The bill, which was paid by mom, was used to pay the elves, and the more on the Christmas list, the higher the bill. Therefore, even if one was very good all year, one needed to be reasonable in requesting gifts, so that mom wouldn't get stuck with a ridiculous bill.
Certainly this doesn't go with what all else she's learned about Santa in the movies and books and in school and what not. But she took the information in in stride and never questioned me on it.
Also, all parents generally consider their kids pretty smart, and I'm not an exception. But even admitting my bias, my daughter scores in the top of her class when it comes to reading and math, and she's often praised for thinking outside the box and reasoning well. So, based on the fact that she's NINE, and had begun deliberating the possibilities of one man getting around the whole entire world in one night, in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, going in and out of chimneys--and what about the people who don't have chimneys?--given her intellectual achievements, coupled by the compromised version of Santa's charging for his services that I've already given her, along with the fact that she's asking us how Santa is able to do all he does... I'm thinking that she's ready for the truth.
So imagine my surprise, when, as Rashieme concludes his lecture, she stares at us both, pausing momentarily, and then asks:
"So... does a fake Santa come in and leave all the toys?"
Rashieme stares at her, then at me. He reaches for his drink, grins, and just says, "I'm not telling her again."
And that was basically it for a few weeks, though I'd been debating about what to do as far as gifts go this year. Not worry about setting them all up on Christmas Eve? Kaliah, did, after all, decide to buy her own candy to go in our stockings yesterday.
But then, just today, she says, "Mom, I think I need to write a letter to Santa."
Before I can question her, she rushes into, "I know that Fake Santa's going to come, and he doesn't know what I want."
So not only is she still believing in Santa, (albeit a fake one), she doesn't even want to show me the letter, because she doesn't want me to buy the same thing as Fake Santa. I finally convinced her that I needed to proofread it for her, because Fake Santa might not honor her requests if there were spelling errors in this letter (that I desperately needed to read in order to make sure that I'd covered her wish list this year).
It's nice, in a way, to have a child who's not ready to let go. Who is so wonderfully innocent and naïve. Yes, I worry about the future. About whether she'll get teased. If she will share any of these unorthodox views at the playground.
But mostly, I'm just happy that I'm still a front row audience to the innocence of childhood, to the refusal to let go of a fantasy, even if it needs a bit of tweaking to still fit with her world view. I'm happy to let my kid be a kid.
Merry Christmas everyone. Best of luck playing Santa this year. Or in my case, Fake Santa.