“I’m not going to lie to her.” My wife says. “If she asks me if Santa is real, I’m just going to tell her flat out: no.”
The resiliance of a seven-year old to hold onto a cherished belief so firmly has left me astounded over the past few weeks. The holidays are approaching and while we tend to celebrate modestly –a nice home-cooked dinner, a tree, and a few gifts such as books or those concert tickets we were planning to buy anyhow– our December 24th has always found a pre-bed timeslot for setting out cookies for Santa Claus.
The girl has been clinging to the who Santa concept extra hard this year. “She wanted to know how Santa was getting in our house since we don’t actually have a chimney.” I tell my wife. “I told her to to think about it. Do you know how she answered?”
“By magic.” I chuckled. “Everything is explained away with magic.”
“All her friends are talking about it.” She says. “And they have one of those silly elves in her classroom… the kind that moves around each night and they’re not supposed to touch it. I don’t care, but I’ve already told her it’s a sham. I even showed her the stacks of boxes of them in the bookstore the other day.”
“Her friends have those things, too.” But we’ve already resolved that it’s not about controlling the message. It’s about prompting her to be good –as the song goes– for goodness sake. “Kids talk, you know. She just doesn’t care if there is proof or not.”
My wife shrugs. “I know. But no lies, OK?”
“She’ll figure it out eventually.” I say. “Kids always do.”
nurturing imagination, rule 015
supplement the truth: balance whimsy and something more serious
I’m on record as saying I was going to crush my daughter’s belief in Santa Claus. When I began the first iteration of this blog, a friend of mine ran a radio show on the topic of science and rational thinking… and she brought me on to chat about just that sort of thing. Of course, having mellowed with a few more years of parenting experience, and now living through the experience of a daughter who (despite any sort of internal condratiction that seems to be fighting an epic battle of truth-v-fiction in her little head) refuses to give up on that belief quite yet… well, I’ve decided to overlook certain holiday contradictions.
Raw rationality is good. It provides us with the outlook to make sound, evidence-based decisions that keep us safe, healthy and prosperous. But I also think that there is a balance wherein our imaginations lurk, a safe space between fictions and absolutes, and sometimes you just need to play along.