December can be a worrisome month for some parents. For those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas, that is. For those of us who are immune to magical thinking. As the rest of the world strings lights and bakes cookies and sprinkles the lawn with reindeer dust in an effort to gussy up the house for the arrival of that rotund white-bearded fellow, I will be sitting my children down and, with as stern a face as I can muster, delivering “the talk.” The one where I tell them to keep their mouths shut about Santa Claus.
I learned the importance of “the talk” the hard way. When he was 4, my son had a rather unfortunate exchange with the daughter of our family friends. It went something like this:
Girl, excited: Santa Claus is getting me an X for Christmas!
Son, deadpan: Santa Claus is just pretend.
Girl, shocked: No. He isn’t.
Son, holding his ground: Yes, he is.
Girl, becoming plaintive: But he brings me my presents!
Son, ever the realist: That’s actually your mom and dad…
We heard the sobbing from the next room, hers not his, and came running. The conversation was relayed back to us, in glossy pre-school detail. The girl’s parents were not pleased, though they were able to talk her round quickly enough with hard-line reassurances that Santa Claus is, indeed, real. All the while my own son looked on in quiet confusion.
This was not the first time he had found himself at odds with a playmate over a point of information. He was a pensive little boy, who took factual disputes—and their accurate resolutions—seriously. But it was the first time his mother wasn’t chiming in with the “truth.”
You can read the rest of the piece here, in the Washington Post.