Monday, January 2, 2012

The Season of Lying

I love Christmas. This last one was particularly delightful. My just turned five-year-old has reached the age of really "getting" the whole deal with the presents and Santa and what-not. I love the decorations, the songs, the gifts, the look of delight on my children's eyes as they tear through the wrapping on toy after toy on Christmas morning. But damn if I'm not delighted that the season of lying is finally behind us. I've started to sort of hate Santa. Seriously, who came up with this idea that we lie to our children in order to make the holiday more special. Ugh.

You see, my child is particularly fascinated with what's "real" and what's not. And I am the kind of mom who tries to answer all her child's questions as honestly as I can. So I am constantly explaining that unicorns are not real. Whales are real. Fairies are not real. Dinosaurs are real, but they don't live any more. Pirates are real, but they don't wear eye patches and have peg legs. Well, there used to be pirates like that, but that was a long time ago. There are still pirates today, but they dress like you and me. It all gets very complicated sometimes. But he insists on knowing "the details." If we attempt to simplify an explanation too much, we get a stern, "No, Mom. Tell me for real." So we explain about the pirates, how they are real, but how they have changed over the years, and leaving off the part about how his great-aunt was literally attacked by pirates in the Caribbean a couple years ago. We'll save that story for when he's six.

Having a very analytical child has made this past Christmas season quite frustrating for me. How do reindeer fly? How does Santa know if we've been good? How does Santa know what to bring me? How do you know what reindeer like to eat? (After I suggested we leave out a carrot for the reindeer with the milk and cookies on Christmas Eve.) This year, I decided: no more lying to the kid. I just can't do it. So every question about Santa's magical powers was answered the same way: "I don't know. I've never actually seen Santa."

Really. How should I know how reindeer fly? Santa has never taken the time to explain it to me. And so I am delighted to have found my loophole. "I don't know" has been my go-to answer for the last 30 days. And I am thrilled that this season of purposeful lying is pretty much done.

Then tonight at bedtime: "Mom. What if Santa's magic snowball breaks? You know, the one he uses to see if we've been good?" (Thank you claymation Santa Claus is Coming to Town.)

Me: "I don't know, Dear. What do you think would happen?"

Kid: "I don't know either. That's why I'm asking you."

Me: "I don't know. But I don't think you have to worry about that. I'm sure he keeps it someplace very safe."

Kid: "Well what do you THINK would happen? What's your theory?"

*** sigh ***

Is it February yet?