Of Course There is Such a Thing as Santa
I can’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa. I don't recall it being a traumatic event. All I know is that somehow, at one point, I knew the big man in red wasn’t real. And the big news did not come from my parents.
I now have a child of my own, and he’s grown up to be a witty 8-year-old. He’s always been a firm believer in Santa Claus, the naughty/nice list, the North Pole, the reindeers, and all of the rest of it.
So, imagine my astonishment when my little guy arrived one day after school and asked the dreaded question “Mommy, does Santa exist?” Have you ever seen a deer staring into the headlights of a car it’s about to hit? That’s what I looked like.
That’s the moment your brain starts to run 100 miles an hour, pondering the pros and cons of coming clean to your kid about having lied these past 8 years, or whether I should just keep up the charade.
I swallow, look him straight in the eye, and very calmly ask him if he believes Santa exists and why he would ask such a thing.
“Adam at school said that Santa is not real, and that it’s the parents who buy the gifts. And they pretend to be Santa by drinking the milk and eating the cookies.”
That little s***. Yes, I literally did think that of my kid’s 9-year old peer.
“What do you believe? Do you want to believe in Santa?” The conclusion was clear: my little guy truly wanted to believe that Old Saint Nick was an actual being.
I decided at that moment that it wasn’t up to me to break it to him.
On one hand, I figured there was a very important life-lesson to be learned from the whole situation: make up your own opinion. It isn’t because you hear something that you should take it for face-value and that it is what you should believe. Ask questions, investigate and come to your own conclusion.
Secondly, contrary to what the “I believe in telling my kids the truth” kind of parents say, believing in Santa Claus is actually beneficial to children’s emotional and cognitive development. Believing in impossible things exercises a different kind of thinking in their minds, allowing them to think outside of the box – a crucial tool for success in various aspects of life, as well as at the root of new inventions and developments.
On the other hand, I figured it must be much more traumatizing for children to hear the truth from their parents: “Jokes on you! I’ve been kidding you and lying to you for the past 8 years. LOL.” As far as I’m concerned, my son will have enough mommy-issues when he grows up. I’m not gonna add to that list.
My son continues believing. But this year, it’s different. This year he no longer wants to simply believe, he wants to fully understand how it works. And so, cue the endless questions for which I have to come up with prompt, logical, and scientifically proven answers. (Save yourself the headache: check out my Q&A for questions you might be hearing).
Moral of this story: let your kid believe for as long as he or she may need to. Life will get real enough for them as they grow older so let them live in the magic a little while longer. And for the love of everything that is sacred, keep saying: of course, there is such a thing as Santa...