This is the first year my son has attended preschool and I am unhappy that he was exposed to the idea of Santa Claus. I’ve never told him about the jolly red suit because I don’t believe in lying to children. While he has seen advertisements for movies and television programs, not to mention the myriad of Santas found in shopping malls, he’s never seemed to believe Santa was anything more than a character like his cartoons. Now, thanks to his teachers and classmates, he’s come home with this idea that Santa watches him all year long and rewards his behavior. I want to tell my son that Santa isn’t a real person, but my husband thinks this will cause problems for him in school. I think we’re causing problems by lying to our child! What should I do?
The Santa Con
Dear The Santa Con,
Wow! My jaw hit the floor when I read your letter. It’s quite impressive that you managed to avoid Santa during the first few years of your Miniature Human’s life. While it would be fairly easy to steer him away from television and movies that feature the mythical man who flies around the world in one night, the mall sightings should have sparked a high level of curiosity. Most Mini Humans hone in on the bright red suit and then ask questions until every adult within earshot is pleading for mercy.
Perhaps you’ll pen a parenting book based on your success.
Nonetheless, your efforts to steer your Miniature Human away from the mystique that accompanies a jolly bearded man and his flying reindeer has finally met its match. Your foe – a handful of excited little faces that shine with excitement in the glow of another Christmas season. Your Miniature Human had to start school at some point, and his exposure to other ideas and beliefs is a side effect of that. Instead of looking at it in a positive way, you seem to want to take a sledgehammer to his classmates and their silly ideas.
Maybe you should hold off on writing that parenting book.
Your husband is right. If you tell your Miniature Human that Santa is fake, he will likely run straight back to school and inform everyone of that fact. The chain reaction this will set off is likely much greater than you predict. First there will be tears, then there will be insults, likely a Miniature Human will let a fist fly in his attempt to stop the horrors he is hearing from your Mini Human’s mouth. Then the teachers get involved. The parents make frantic phone calls. A school principal requests a meeting.
The domino effect continues until society collapses in a blazing inferno.
Now, I’m not saying you need to lie to your Miniature Human, not at all. Yet I do wonder at what point you are wiling to draw the line. Obviously you allow him to watch cartoons and those cartoons likely feature a number of make believe characters. It doesn’t seem as if your Miniature Human came home and grilled you on the reality of Santa’s existence and demanded he be repaid for all the years he was good. He merely talked about an idea that fascinated him, introduced by a student who has a different world view.
The exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of schooling.
While it may be upsetting that your Miniature Human has come home with a skewed view of the world, I would like to remind you that he is in preschool. Last time I checked, your Miniature Human has barely graduated past the ‘soiling of his pants’ stage of life. I think you have time to take a breath and realize that not every hill is the one to die on. You have latched onto the notion that by not ‘telling him the truth’ about Santa Claus you are, in effect, lying to him. Following that line of reasoning, one could only conclude that you must give your Miniature Human the entire truth of the world around him.
You can start by telling him about serial killers, I’m sure he’ll sleep well after that.
My example was a bit extreme, but I hope I made my point. The world is going to give your Miniature Human enough nightmares, allow him this bit of magic at a time when he still believes it could be possible. Dragons and fairies and trolls that sing – think of all the amazing things! Your Miniature Human may just become the greatest fantasy fiction writer of his generation – all because he was allowed to think of things that exceed reality. If that isn’t incentive enough, then ponder this for a moment – is your need to tell the truth worth his possible alienation at school when he tells them Santa isn’t real?
If you think he’s getting a party invite after that bombshell announcement, you are crazy.
Should your Miniature Human approach you with a direct question about Santa’s existence, answer his question with your own. Ask your Miniature Human if he thinks Santa is real. He’ll be diverted from your opinion and by the time he circles back around, the season will be over and you can breathe for another 11 months.
That is a lot of time for a classmate’s older sibling to shatter the dreams of a pesky younger brother.
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