E had a sleepover with one of her friends the other night. They had a great time playing and being silly, and when it was time for bedtime, it took them a long time to settle down. Long after the lights went out, they were chatting away in there.
That was the first night of my sickness so I was already in bed, too. Since I refuse to get rid of E’s baby monitor, I could hear their conversation. I was going to get up and turn it down but I was having too much fun listening to their hysterical conversations.
Just as I was reaching to turn it off, I heard something that made my ears perk up — and my Momma Grizzly Bear haunches raise.
E’s friend: “You know, there’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. My mommy told me so.”
I froze. What would my girl say? Since she’s only 4, we’re years away from the Tooth Fairy so we haven’t discussed it all that much. But she knows of its “existence” and is eager for her Tooth Fairy days to arrive. Besides, my girl also believes in other kinds of fairies and is always on the lookout for one in the yard. I once told her that the dust motes you see in the sunlight are fairies and she LOVES that idea. Needless to say, we’re big fans of fairies ’round here.
E’s first response was, “Yes huh, there is too a Tooth Fairy.”
Friend: “Un huh.”
Then, E lawyered her.
E: “If you don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, then you can’t believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And then you can’t get presents or candy.”
Thankfully, for now, the crisis of belief confidence seems to be averted.
The next day, I asked my friend (the child’s mother) if she had accurately conveyed their conversation. We’re very good friends, so I had no qualms doing this. If we weren’t as good as friends, I may not have brought it up or I would have danced around it more delicately. But I also wanted to know if it was something a) she would want to talk to her daughter about in case the child had misunderstood her about something or b) if it was something she’d told her daughter, I wanted to urge her to have a conversation with her about not spilling the beans to other kids.
My friend said they’d recently talked about it and when her daughter asked if there was a Tooth Fairy she’d said, “Well, some people believe there’s one. What do you think?”
She told me she just didn’t feel comfortable lying to her kid and that initially she’d been against promoting the idea of Santa but her husband had persuaded her to go along on that one.
Here’s the thing — I honestly don’t care how other parents parent. Since having a child of my own, I’ve realized there really is no “right” way to parent. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. We all have to do what works best for our kids and our families.
Buuuuuut, when it directly impacts something I consider to be a big part of my daugther’s childhood, I do care. If we lived in a vacuum, I could care less whether your kids believed in Santa. But, in the same way you probably don’t want your kid to watch “Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith” at our house (a PG-13 movie we’ve allowed our kid to watch), I don’t want your kid to rain on my Santa parade.
It’s just the social contract.
What’s so wrong with believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy? I feel like there’s something going on these days on this topic. I first realized this when The Feminist Breeder, a blogger I very much admire, posted last year that they weren’t doing Santa with their kids. Then, a few months ago, my BFF Missy told me she was concerned because one of her closest friends, who has a child around the same age as hers, will not be doing Santa. She called me, wondering how she should move forward with their friendship because she really loves her friend but is worried she’ll always be afraid her friend’s kid is going to “ruin” Christmas.
Barring religious reasons, I just don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to do Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I could certainly do without the latter two, but Santa? I just love what he symbolizes. I love the magic of the Christmas season. I love the spirit of giving, joy and awe.
Our kids have to grow up so fast these days. There’s no mystery in the world anymore. Want to know why the sky is blue? Don’t wonder. Just Google it. What’s it like in space? Go online and watch videos. While all of that knowledge is fascinating and wonderful, it takes a bit of the intrigue out of the world. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a little faith.
I also think not letting them believe puts an unfair burden on the little people.
I can’t remember who I had this conversation with but I’m pretty sure it was one of my Jewish friends from high school. Whoever it was (or did I read it somewhere else?) said they sometimes wished their parents had just told them there was a Santa for a few years because when they were in elementary school, they were always so worried about accidentally slipping around their Christian friends and outing the Santa story.
Besides, have you ever known a young child to effectively keep a secret? If E knows something, the world knows it. She was forbidden from bringing up her upcoming birthday plans at school because only three girls are coming and they’re all friends we’ also regularly spend time with outside of school. But, of course, in her excitement, she slipped and feelings got hurt. It was innocent but it didn’t stop a few other girls from feeling like crap.
I’d give anything to go back in time and not tell her about her birthday until the day before now to avoid hurting those girls. How will you feel when your child accidentally crushes another kid’s beliefs?
Another thing I’ve heard from friends is that they don’t like to lie to their kids. Then, they’re better people than me. In my nearly five years of motherhood, I’ve learned one big lesson — the basis of all good parenting is lying! “Go to bed now or your brain won’t grow.” “Eat your broccoli or you’ll never get taller.” “We don’t have any dessert.” “Sorry, they don’t have any chicken nuggets at this restaurant. But they have grilled chicken. Yum!” Sure, there’s some basis of truth in some of those things, but I tell them for my kid’s own good.
Which is exactly how I feel about Santa. It’s good for her to believe. It’s good for her to get excited about something so seemingly impossible. It’s good for her to believe in the power of magic.
She won’t always believe but when those days are over, I hope she’ll remember what it felt like to believe. I hope that someday, when she feels something is impossible or that she can’t do it, she’ll remember when the impossible happend — a fat man came down her chimney and brought her the thing her heart desired most.
She has enough time in life to be as cynical and jaded as me.
So, for the love of Kris Kringle, if you’re going to always tell your children the truth, then please tell them to keep their lips zipped. Or I’ll have to teach them a truth myself — no one messes with my kid’s magic.
So, tell me why I’m wrong. If you don’t do Santa, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, why not? And if you do, help me come up with a good defense response for the inevitable “Susie says there’s no Santa.”
I’m Jewish and I honestly don’t remember what I thought of Santa when I was a little kid. I’ve thought about this before because I had primarily non-Jewish friends and I do wonder what I said to them, but it’s gone from the memory bank.
I realize today that I hope this doesn’t sound like I want to force my Santa beliefs on non-Christians! In my mind, if a child who doesn’t celebrate Christmas said to my daughter that she didn’t believe in Santa that wouldn’t bother me in the same way as a child who DOES celebrate Christmas saying the same thing. Make any sense?
I’m sure, as usual, I’m overthinking this. I’m just lazy and there are some conversations I’d rather avoid having as long as possible. I assumed we’d have to arm her with some “Santa facts” come elementary school if we wanted to keep it going; I just wasn’t anticipating having to do it in preschool.
At this rate, we’ll clearly be talking about sex by the second grade. Sigh.
Thanks for your insight! Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back and rewatch some of your childhood? There is so much I just don’t remember and I often wonder what I thought and felt about certain things, too.
Hey look at you adding some color to your blog. Now you just need a header. Hee.
I grew up in a town that was 50% Jewish/50% Christian and had no issues believing in Santa. I think most of my Jewish friends thought there was a Santa too! And now some of them take their kids to see Santa.
As for the “belief” aspect of it…I’m with you. What’s so wrong about having a little imagination? We don’t do the Easter Bunny, but we don’t celebrate Easter either – so we just tell the kids that some kids do and the Easter Bunny comes to their house. I was no scared from my parents “lying” to me – if anything I appreciate that they put up the effort to add some fun memories to my childhood!
Yes! That’s what J always says too — it’s just plain fun! Why WOULDN’T you want to do it? We have a ball with all the Santa/Blue Devil stuff and hopefully she remembers how fun it was too.
We do the Easter Bunny, mostly because my mom always did it when I was growing up. I think part of it was because my birthday was so close to Christmas so she sort of did Easter up for me as a mid-year(ish) other holiday. Our baskets always had more “stuff” than candy — movies, books, perfume (I’m thinking there was some Debbie Gibson Electric Youth one year!) etc.
Don’t hate me, but I am one of those who is not thrilled about the Santa thing. I never believed in it myself, but was still able to enjoy Christmas and fairy tales, I just knew it wasn’t true. My husband and I don’t really agree about Santa, so I agreed to go along with it, as long as I am not required to lie extensively (meaning if questions arise, I am not willing to make up more stuff to cover up). the way I feel about it is that I strive to raise a child who will question things and be as rational as possible. Of course, when he finds out the truth, I will explain to him that he shouldn’t spoil it for others. As for the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, there is no way I will ever pretend they are real, I have my limits 🙂
I could never hate you but I’m glad your husband prevailed! 🙂
But seriously, I hear what you’re saying. I do. But so far in life, I will have NO worries about E. questioning things and wanting to get to the root of the whys and hows. She’s a question machine. But selfishly, I hope she suspends some of the inquisitiveness when it comes to Santa, et al, because frankly, my husband and I have SO MUCH fun creating those surprises and moments of magic for her. Someday, she’ll realize it was us and will hopefully appreciate all the effort we went through to make it so special. It’s also been fun to see how her mind works as she tries to puzzle out the mechanics of how exactly Santa flies around the world and visits so many houses. It’s actually led to some really cool conversations.
Just keep an open mind and let your husband do all the heavy lifting!
** by heavy lifting, I meant with the tale telling … not with the thinking. I was typing too fast! 🙂
Love this post and totally agree with your worries regarding older kids spoiling that magic. Between older cousins or next year when we start kindergarten with the school bus, I’m sure it’s bound to happen, but it will be a sad day when it does.
I know! I still vividly remember the day when my next door neighbor, who was younger than me, broke the Santa news to me. I was in 3rd or 4th grade. There’s NO WAY E makes it that long, sadly.
Anda T (Leaving Fatville) says
We are a strange family in our house. We don’t follow organized religion, and the hubs screws it all up by technically being Jewish, but raised Catholic. But we love us some Santa. Santa is a magical tool that starts right after Thanksgiving that helps us keep one very rambunctious 5 year old polite, caring and somewhat well-behaved for the parents. For the kid, he gets to know that someone awesome is thinking about it him and wants to bring him a great toy he’ll love all year round. We love the magical part of the holidays, we love the wonder and the warm memories we had growing up. We’re determined to give that to our kids, too. He’s encountered the “Santa isn’t real” zinger from friends and his snappy retort was, “That’s fine. He’ll just skip your house and give me your toys, too.” I was proud of him for believing even when his friends didn’t. You’re on the right track, too. She knows what she believes regardless of what her friends think.
The only thing we don’t do is the Easter Bunny. I think he’s great, but we don’t follow the holiday it technically coincides with and we’re not big on candy in my house. Our eldest has a crazy sensitivity to sugar and caffeine in chocolate. So, our E doesn’t get the traditional Easter basket. He will get something fun like coloring eggs with his Farm Grammy. Aside from that, it’s not much to him and we’re okay with that.
We haven’t really brought up the Tooth Fairy, yet. But if his glee over getting our loose change at the grocery store is any indication; he’ll be just fine with finding money under his pillow regardless where it comes from!
(Sorry for the small novel of a comment!)
You can come write a novella anytime … especially one this interesting!
Yes, I didn’t even get into the bribing magic of Santa, but believe you me, I start dropping his name in October — heavily! I love your son’s response to this friends. That’s awesome!
And I also love the way you put it that he knows someone awesome is thinking of him. Very cool!
My mom always did some candy in my basket but it was mostly other stuff — books, movies, Play-Doh, etc., so we’ve sort of continued with that same idea. She gets very little candy but mostly some fun, small stuff. We LOVE doing Easter egg hunts for her too in our yard using those plastic eggs. We put a Hershey kiss or a couple M&Ms in them and it’s so much fun!
That’s the thing — we probably have more fun with all this stuff than she ever will. So why WOULDN’T we want to do it?
Thanks for the comment and sharing your family’s experiences. It’s so interesting to learn about what different families do for all the holidays!
This is one I struggle with as far as Star Wars goes. My kids both 3&5 have seen them all. My husband and I are both huge Star Wars nerds but I some times forget that the movies are not all PG.
With kids it’s hard to know what to say. My son flat out asked about Santa. While I felt bad lying I’m not going to have “that” kid in school who spoils it for everyone. It’s important I think for kids to have imaginary things to believe in. It keeps the magic and imaginations working.
My children may or may not truly believe in the “force” and I wouldn’t change that. 🙂
Ah yes, the Force is also strong in our house as well! And if it makes you feel better, by 4, E had seen them all, too! And now she’s the biggest Star Wars nerd of us all. She’s OBSESSED. She and I my husband have been watching the Clone Wars a lot lately too. We borrowed the first few seasons and her uncle got her more for Christmas.
I agree with you — I just want her to have an active, vibrant and vivid imagination and I think Santa helps with that!
Thanks for the comment!
Caroline Calcote says
I agree with you. Lying and bribery are the main tools in my arsenal, followed closely by guilt and intimidation. My kids are on the cusp (or beyond it) of not believing in these things, but we don’t broach those subjects. They know, because I have told them point blank, that if you don’t believe, the presents (or money from the Tooth Fairy) stop coming. So we will ALL continue to believe ad infinitum. Apparently that’s not a word. Whatever. I have friends who also don’t do Santa et al, but it was never really an issue. In our house, we BELIEVE because it’s more fun that way.
I think I’m doing to need some guilt and intimidation lessons from you … the bribery isn’t working as well as it once did.
And I LOVE the way you worded that — you believe because it’s more fun that way. +1 to that statement. No, +100!
I think by next year (or the year after) I’m going to have to introduce your idea of if you don’t believe, the presents stop. Then, it’ll be E’s turn to lie to me and pretend she still believes but I don’t care — I want her to believe (for real or otherwise) FOREVER!
This is such a great post. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our house and even with that the kids believed in Santa. The youngest one still does and the older two are helping keep the magic alive a little bit longer. Because without a bit of magic the world sure wouldn’t be as fun!
Thanks Susi. Glad your older ones are helping to create such fun memories. There’s way too much reality these days; magic and mystery are good things sometimes!
I’m a HUGE fan of Christmas time and Santa was a very magical part of my life. It is so amazingly awesome to have that magic back and see it in my son’s eyes. He sort of understood Santa last year (errr year before) but this year (err last year) he really understood and the magic was there. I can’t imagine having some kid telling him there is no Santa and breaking that magic early. I had/have Jewish friends in my life but they never talked about Santa and when I was a kid it was just understood that Santa came to those that celebrated Christmas and believed in him.
I don’t want myself or my son pushing Santa on people nor do I want the anti-Santa people to push their beliefs to us or through their children. Awesome to hear E had a great comeback. 🙂
That’s what I’m hoping for — that those who don’t believe just keep quiet. As I said in one of my comments above, I just see that as two very different categories — if someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, then it makes sense they wouldn’t believe in a Santa or EB. It’s the ones who DO celebrate but don’t believe that concern me. And at this age, I really don’t think it’d be malicious spilling of the beans. Kids at this age just aren’t good judges of appropriateness. And they put SO much weight in the words of adults, so when the child said her mom said it wasn’t true, I was very concerned with how E would react. Thankfully, she was more prepared for the situation than I was!
And I totally agree with you. I, in no way, want to push some pro-Santa agenda. Just as I don’t want an anti-Santa idea pushed on my kid. Maybe homeschooling isn’t such a bad idea after all! 🙂
I saw your post on Run Eat Date Sleep and wanted to check out your blog. 🙂 It’s funny that you are posting on this topic as my husband and I (no kids yet) go back and forth about this ALL THE TIME. Im Pro Santa etc etc and he is against it. We grew up in vastly different religions and while he doesnt practice now a lot of those beliefs still influence him. We are trying to find a happy compromise but I have no clue how we are going to deal with it.
You guys will do just fine. That’s the fun thing with parenting — there are no right answers! Only what works best, family to family. And I feel I have to keep repeating b/c I don’t know if I was clear enough in the post, but I really don’t care how people handle it in their own homes. It’s such a personal decision that each family needs to make for itself. I know it sounds selfish to not want what we promote in our home “ruined” (which I think is too strong of a word; I’m struggling to come up with a better alternative), but I can’t help but feel that way!
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back again!
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that your friend’s daughter directly asked her if there was a Tooth Fairy and your friend decided not to directly lie to her about it. I was in the same position as your friend when my son asked, at the age of 5, if Santa really existed. My husband gave a similar vague answer but did not unequivocally say yes, Santa is real, because he didn’t want to lie to our son. We have since talked to my son many times about the fact that a lot of kids his age still believe in Santa and he is not to ruin things for them, but he’s 6 and that age isn’t necessarily going to think of that all the time.
I think I take umbrage at this being called “a thing” now. Our holidays are no less fun or magical because my son doesn’t believe in Santa.
I apologize if I caused any offense. “The thing” was my attempt at flippancy in the headline — not meant to be a dig. But I totally see how it could be interpreted that way. You’re right — the holidays, however they’re celebrated, are a magical, special time for every family. I’m sorry.
And I completely get and appreciate your family’s response. And I thank you for going out of your way to ensure he understands not everyone has his understanding of the “Santa Situation.” I also think there’s a big difference in children’s maturity between 4 and 6, so I’m sure he’s more than capable of appreciating different rules, for lack of a better word, for different families.
It’s an interesting discussion isn’t it? It’s not something I would have thought to talk to my friends openly about before this incident. I just find it fascinating how different each family is in what they say and do. Again, no judgment — just interesting!
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. The more experiences shared, the more I think it helps us all.
I taught grade one and two in a school that was about half Jewish. My first year there, I expected December to be a bit stressful with kids arguing about what was “true”, but the kids had their own simple solution: the Christian and nonreligious kids believed in Santa and the Jewish and Muslim kids didn’t. Honestly, I was surprised by how much of a non-issue it was! Maybe because it was such a multicultural area, but the kids really had no problem at all with the idea that Santa was real for some of them and not others. I found it fascinating!
I think a big deal is being made about something that doesn’t have to be a big deal. My son is extremely technical. One example–he wouldn’t go #2 on the potty for the longest time…one day my husband gave him a tour of our basement, explained the water pipes and how the septic system works…my son finally went #2 on the potty when he understood where it was going. How does this connect to Santa and the tooth fairy??? From a very early age, through much prayer, God put it on my heart (years before the potty incident) to not do “santa” in a traditional way. As my son got older it became clear to me why–he is too technical and I will not look him in the eye and tell him something that is not true. We do a LOT of pretending at my house, so he is not missing out on imagination or magical moments. However, in respect for others and their traditions, we teach him that “At some houses, people celebrate Santa at Christmas, but at our house, we celebrate Jesus and the gifts are from Mom and Dad.” (Yes, we’ve explained that some people celebrate Jesus AND Santa, and other things because we are all different–it’s good to be different.) He recently asked me about the tooth fairy. My response? “At some houses, people leave their tooth under their pillow and celebrate that the tooth fairy gives them money. At our house, we will have a tooth celebration, you will receive 1.00 as part of the celebration and we will record it in a special tooth celebration book.” He then asked if we could save the teeth–no problem, maybe he’ll grow up to be a dentist. I don’t think this will “wreck” it for any other children and it is a good early lesson in diversity–we’re all different. I don’t accuse those who celebrate Santa as “wrecking it” for my child because we feel pressured to lie about something we choose not to do, or my son feels different because a majority of his friends celebrate Santa and he doesn’t—I just recognize that we are all different and hopefully this might also teach him that down the road, he doesn’t have to go along with the crowd just because “everyone else is doing it.”
visit their website says
My cousin advised I would personally possibly by way of example this web site. He / she once was altogether perfect. This particular send truly. made our day. You possibly can not really think about just how plenty. time period I’d used because of this details! Many thanks!
I had a bad reaction to being told there was no Santa. When I was 10, the kids at school were teasing me mercilessly about still believing, so I went home and asked my dad if Santa was real. He told me, “If you believe, then he is.” So I went back to school the next day and said, “My dad says…” I had no reason to question my parents. They were my parents. They would never steer me wrong. The teasing got even worse.
The next year at Christmas, there were no presents from Santa under the tree. When I asked why not, my parents sat me down and told me there was no Santa. And I was devastated. I bawled for hours. And it wasn’t just because Santa wasn’t real, it’s that when I asked for the truth, my parents didn’t give it to me. I felt that they had contributed to my misery at school with my peers by keeping me in the dark. It was just this incredible breech of trust and my relationship with them was never the same afterwards.
That being said, I love Santa. I think he’s great. If I ever had kids, I’d do Santa, but the minute they asked me if he was real, I would tell them the truth. And if they never asked me, I would make sure they knew by 10.
Also I’m not sure I’d ever do the Tooth Fairy because the older I get, the creepier that concept becomes. Baby teeth are gross. You don’t need a dollar to be glad they’re out of your head.