When Christopher was little, David and I talked about, among other parenting issues, how we would handle it SOMEDAY when Christopher asked if Santa's real. We didn't want to lie to him, but we didn't want to ruin the fun, either. In theory, we were comfortable with our decision. We decided that we would do the Santa thing, but would never make a big issue about it or use him as a behavior management tool (as in, "If you don't behave, Santa won't bring you any toys."). We had pictures made with Santa at the mall in the beginning, but when he refused, we decided it wasn't worth it and have simply asked him each year if he wanted to do so...then went with whatever he decided. For several years, the answer was no. Every so often (especially if the Santa in question had candy to offer), the answer was yes. We decided that when he asked us THE question about Santa, we'd tell him the truth. Yeah...in theory, that all sounds great! In reality, not so much!!!
Here's how it happened...we were driving home from lunch after our Homeschool Science Co-op today. We'd had lunch with Emily (Christopher's buddy) and her mommy (my buddy), where Emily's birthday (which occurs this month) was discussed. About half way home, Christopher pipes up from the back seat with the question I'd been dreading for six and a half years:
"Mommy, Is Santa real?"
Such an innocent question...and yet, it instantly caused a huge amount of turmoil in my mind as I struggled with how I would answer my precious only child. I had hoped that by the time he thought to ask this question, siblings would be in the picture and he could be Santa's Helper . . . which would extend the fun. But, that was not the case on this day. So, I tried the answer-a-question-with-a-question tactic:
"What do YOU think?"
You know what his precious response was?
"I don't know, Mommy...that's why I asked YOU!"
Oh boy...now I was really on the spot! Do I tell him the truth and ruin the fantasy and the fun? If I do, will he later feel that he missed out on something in his childhood? If I don't, and I try to play it off, will he doubt me later because I lied to him? Or worse yet, will he doubt that God is real? These are the moral delimas swirling around in my brain while my child patiently waits in the backseat for an answer to his simingly simple question. At this moment, I'm secretly wishing I could freeze time, call David to talk over what we're going to do, and then re-enter the scenario once I've got it all figured out. Unfortunately, such an option did not exist...and an answer was being waited on! So, I tried this...
"Why do you want to know?"
You know what I got?
"I just want to know."
OK...no letting me off the hook on this one. After a few more cat-and-mouse type of questions, I finally realized that he was trying to figure out the legistics of how in the world this chubby guy with only a sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer could possibly get presents to all the children in the world in one night! Seriously? Why does he have to be such a deep thinker at such a young age??? Well, at least I had some sort of an answer for this one..."The Mommies and Daddies help." And I left it at that. He asked how...I changed the subject. Does that make me a bad mommy?