The first time my oldest daughter, M, asked me if Santa Clause was real my answer was, “of course Santa is real darling!” She heaved a big sigh of relief, gave me a hundred watt smile and exclaimed, “I knew it!”
Flash forward five years or so, it’s Easter and my youngest daughter, E, is thrilled because she is convinced she actually saw the Easter Bunny the night before. M is estatic, proof that the rumors she’s heard aren’t really true.
A few months older now and M is again asking, “Mom, is Santa really real? Everyone at school says he isn’t.” Wow. That was a hard moment for a mom, I didn’t want her to be humiliated at school by still believing, but I didn’t want her to lose the wonder yet. Sadly I told her, “no honey, Santa isn’t real, but is a representation of the spirit of giving at Christmas time.” She thought about it, mulled it over for a few moments and said with a smile, “okay, I guess I’ll still believe in Santa then.” Then she froze, the smile dropped off her face and she said, “wait, what about the tooth fairy?” “Yeah, that was me.” “And, what about? Oh no, does that mean…. the Easter Bunny? He’s still real right? E saw him!” “No honey, just pretend, I hide the Easter eggs and E must have dreamed him.” More silence from M, I could practically hear the wheels turning as she absorbed this new dissapointment and then she looked at me and said, “let’s not tell E okay? She’s still too little.”
On another side of that, why do we, as parents, force our young children to not only talk to a total stranger but sit on his lap while they do it?