There are many things society wants us to accept as truths, and once you resist the idea that these specific things are facts rather than opinions, all hell might just break loose.
So, I can only imagine the backlash I may get from family and friends when they find out this year that I told my toddler that Santa doesn’t exist. Why would I do this when it’s a holiday tradition to give a child the joy of believing in the magic of Santa?
Well, because that’s exactly what the idea of Santa is. Magic (not to be confused with miracle–that was Jesus).
As an engineer, I’m here to tell you that it’s not physically possible for one elderly man to travel the world in one night.
Sure, thinking about snowflakes glittering in the sky, while children slumber like sugar plums in the cold of the night, and a generous man delivers every item on a wishlist to homes that welcome him with milk and delicious cookies is a wonderful thought. But it doesn’t make sense, and It’s actually scary when you think about it.
My son may only be three years old, but he’s curious about everything that happens around him and to him. I can barely explain to him the science of a sunset or the concept of money. Therefore, I’m certain that I have no idea how to explain to him that a strange, big man is going to enter his house without him knowing and that he’s not allowed to look at him or wait for him.
Where do the reindeer come from?” He will ask, followed by the inevitable:
How does Santa fit through chimneys?
Will Santa only drop off presents or will he take things too?
Does Santa get older?
How does Santa stay warm?
Is the sleigh like an airplane?
How does he know where I live?
What if the reindeer fall off the roof?
Am I going to be woken up by noise?
Some of these questions I flat out won’t be able to answer, and the ones I can respond to will not be any easier. Because these answers will be lies.
When parents blame people like me as the reason for why their child’s hopes and dreams of Santa are crushed on the playground at school, I am confused. Because I can guarantee that when their child tells someone else’s kid about periods or sex, this same parent will reply smartly with, “Well, I’m not going to lie to my child about their body, and I can’t control who they talk to about it,” absolving themselves of all responsibility for the fact that their child just took away the opportunity for someone else’s parents to discuss sex with their kid in their own way.
It may seem like this is comparing oranges to apples, but it’s not. It’s really the same if you even consider my side of the argument for one minute.
First of all, if another child tries to convince my son that Santa exists, my child might be confused because I’ve already told him that he doesn’t. But that’s the beauty of teaching him while he’s this young—I get the first say on what he hears for most things.
Secondly, the point is that parents have the right to guide their kids in whatever way they want. And if I want to admit to my son that Santa is not real, because I believe in honesty more than magic, it shouldn’t be anyone else’s concern. If a parent wants to be a hypocrite and say this is wrong because he might ruin it for other kids, I could say the same about a million other things: a movie your child spoils the ending for, a Catholic belief your kid explained to mine even though we don’t believe it, the rules your kid discussed about Candyland that may or may not be true, etc.
Kids talk, just like people talk, and they have freewill. We can’t stop our kids from telling their friends what they want, just like we can’t stop our kids from believing what their friends tell them. In the end, we as parents have to trust that we raised them the right way, with the freedom to ask us questions and to discuss with us whatever they hear or are curious about, and the rest is really just life.
I can’t control many things in my son’s childhood, but I can lead by example, and if the example is that I’m okay lying to him as long as it serves the “greater good” or makes him feel some sparkly kind of way in December, then what does that say to him?
Sorry to burst your bubble, parents, but I told my son Santa doesn’t exist, because it’s the truth. He knows what Santa looks like but is aware that mom and dad will be getting his presents from good ole Target and Amazon; and I am perfectly content with that.
Now, he can focus on the real meaning of Christmas (God, family, love, random acts of kindness, and giving) without the distraction of Santa and his elves.