WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS STATEMENTS THAT ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR BELIEVING EYES (send your kids to watch The Polar Express or something)
So my child is two and a half. Last Christmas season seeing a Santa elicited a cute little “ho ho ho” from him that we just couldn’t get enough of. It was so jolly coming out of that fat little face – a frivolous innocent moment of his childhood that will (barring any cognitively degenerative diseases and/or severe head trauma) forever be etched in the annals of my memory. Well, this year he is asking questions.
I haven’t answered with any statements of “fact” yet. I just kind of nebulously say “Well, he’s a jolly character who helps us remember Jesus’ birthday”. I’m really feeling the pressure. This kid remembers EVERYTHING, with an uncanny ability to then explain back to me what I’ve taught him along with several associations he’s made in his pint sized head and then offers follow-up questions. So I figure my current weak sauce answers might last me through another 48 hours. Max.
To preface this particular neurotic quandry of mine, I need to mention that when I was his age (well, three months older if we’re splitting hairs) an absolutely horrific lie was perpetrated in my life. Years later when I uncovered this lie I vowed I would never lie to my child. I never want to give my child a reason to question my word. Period.
Enter the fat guy in the red suit. Or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy or whatever seemingly benign mythological being you want to insert. Is it damaging to go through childhood without these little white fables of magic? Am I sheltering him against things that pose no harm because of a knee jerk phobia of losing his trust later? How do I delineate between say Jesus, Super Why, Angels from Heaven and Curious George with someone who is purported to be developmentally unable to differentiate between fact and fiction in the first place? Do I even try? Isn’t it my job to tell him which is real and which is not and be telling the TRUTH (so far as I believe it to be such and so on yada yada disclaimer)? Do I assume that any harm done with these little tales will be undone eventually and the kid will be normal and still trust me? He’ll hate me in ten years no matter what, right? So just add this to the inevitable list of grievances a teenager has for a parent? Is this yet another convincing argument in favor of me returning to therapy? ARGH!!!! How do ANY of us ever emerge from childhood trusting anyone? Harumph.
I guess this means I welcome any advice - Santa related or otherwise. Ho ho ho indeed.
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