Waiting for Santa Claus… The Existential Crisis of a 7-year-old

This week, I took my seven-year-old daughter, Harper, to see Santa Claus. It was a Wednesday night, and because Christmas is still almost two weeks away, there was barely a line. I wasn’t standing too close, but I heard her tell him she wanted a pink bike, and then they sat down together and took this picture:

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As you can see, in this picture, they are acting like a couple of old friends… But secretly, she’s been questioning him.

A few days ago, I asked her what she wanted from Santa.

“Why do YOU want to know?” she asked me pointedly. “I thought it was just between me and him.”

“Because,” I told her, “I’m your mother and I want to know all about you. I like to know your Christmas list.”

Normally, the answer would’ve satisfied her, but this time, it didn’t…

“I’m not sure about Santa anymore,” she told me.

“Why not?”

“Because a boy at school said he’s made up. He said there’s no Santa.”

“That’s terrible,” I told her. “Why would he do that?”

“It made me think,” she said skeptically… “I remembered the time you told me about the Easter Bunny, and that really got to me.”

Ugh… the Easter Bunny. How I hate that stupid rabbit. I make no apologies about it. To the dismay and angry stares of honest adoring parents that want their children to believe in the magic of the Easter Bunny, I told Harper he was fake from the beginning.

“Look,” I told her at the time. “The Easter Bunny is creepy. He’s weird. His head is too big for his body. What does he do? Does he lay eggs? Does he hide eggs? Is there a chicken involved? He’s a creature invented solely for marketing… He’s not so much a hero as he is the manufacturer for Peeps.”

I thought I was being smart keeping her away from the dumb rabbit. But instead, it caused this deep existential crisis within her regarding holiday mascots.

“If the Easter Bunny isn’t real,” she told me this week, “I don’t see how Santa is real.”

It was like having Charles Darwin in a Sunday School class.

“They are nothing alike,” I told Harper, frantically searching for the right words. “Santa takes toys to kids. He cares about all children. The Easter Bunny just sits in malls and shows up at random parties to scare adults like me with his big weird head and his eyes that don’t blink.”

Harper looked at me with the same puzzled expression that other mothers have given me when I’ve explained my dislike for the Easter Bunny.

“Do YOU believe in Santa Claus?” she asked me. “Do YOU think he’s real?”

And here is where some people might take issue with my answer… Because instead of doling out a great explanation like… “Well, Santa might not be a real guy, but the spirit of giving is real, and so as we give and receive with open and thankful hearts, we keep his spirit alive…”

Instead of saying that… I decided to go the Jim Jones route and answer her this way:

“Yes, Harper. Santa Claus is completely real. I don’t doubt it for a second. I believe it completely and I can’t wait to put out the cookies and milk and the reindeer food on Christmas Eve…”

“Okay,” Harper said quietly. “I believe you.”

But as I stepped away from our conversation, I had to ask myself… Was I telling her Santa was real for her or was it for me?

One of the best things about being a parent is that you get the opportunity to remember what it was like to be a child. There are many magical moments in childhood that you forget or you overlook… Until you have your own child… And then you remember them.

Sitting at the table with her on Christmas Eve while she drafts a letter to Santa…. We bake cookies and put out milk… Then she falls asleep while Erin and I stay up until two in the morning wrapping presents and putting toys together…

It has given us some crazy memories… Once we put together an over two-hundred piece doll house… It required Double-A Batteries and an engineering degree to assemble… The hubs and I nearly killed each other. I threatened to load the doll house into the car and drive it back to Toys R Us at three in the morning. But when Harper woke up one hour later, and the doll house was waiting for her… The look on her face made it worth it…

Sneaking around and watching Harper’s surprise on Christmas morning is fun and sweet. As excited as she is, though, I think I am more excited… And in a world that is grossly missing kindness and sweetness, it is a breath of joy.

My husband told me he felt I should’ve told her the truth when she asked. And really, I think I should’ve as well.

But… I wasn’t ready to let Santa go yet. I wasn’t ready to let “Tiny Harper” go either.

I was talking to my friend, Jolene, the other day… Jolene has three kids, and they are officially old enough now, so that they all know the truth about Santa… As I lamented this story to Jolene, she had this to say… “No one ever tells you when the last day of adventure will come. You have to make the most of those moments while they last.”

And she’s right… There is a last day for everything…. A final baby tooth to be pulled… A final day for the doll house… And of course, there is a final day for Santa Claus.

The French call the seventh year of a child’s life L’Age de Raison, or THE AGE OF REASON… This is where the questioning all begins, and Harper is right on track.

There are some tough questions around Santa and this might be his last year… So I will enjoy him greatly. Of course, our Christmas-to-comes will be filled with joy and excitement…. But, it’s hard for parents when they learn the truth about Santa.

 

The Top 5 Most Embarrassing Revelations From My Sweet Sweet Child

Parents are NEVER immune from honest revelations from their children… It doesn’t matter if you are the most secure person on earth, your child will betray publicly anything and everything you try to hide privately… And they are NOT easily impressed.

Even when you are the President of the United States, if you make corny jokes, your children will betray you. Sasha and Malia Obama were FORCED to go to the turkey pardon this year, and their Dad’s corny jokes about pardoning CHEESE the turkey were no match from the sullen “teen-face” both the girls threw his way.

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And if Barack Obama is not immune from the honest criticism of his kids… no one is!

This got me thinking about the most memorable moments when my child has publicly shamed me! Right now, Harper is still young… I can’t imagine what is in store for me in the teenage years!

Here goes…..

1) The first is a lovely rendering Harper completed for her Art Class… She was asked to please draw a picture that represented something special that had happened to her. While some kids drew pictures of houses and swing sets… She decided to go this route, with a horribly embarrassing occurrence I was trying to keep quiet from EVERYONE!!!

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This drawing represents a “special” and HORRIBLE event when our small dog took revenge on us when we left him alone in the house for two hours!!! Guess you can’t get any more special than that! It might’ve earned Harper an A… But it earned me an E for Embarrassing!

2) When Harper was 3-years-old, we were moving to a new house, and I was rushing to take her to preschool before the movers arrived. Just as we arrived at her preschool, she said… “I am hungry.”

In the bustle to get out of the house, I FORGOT TO FEED HER BREAKFAST!!!

I absolutely HAD to get back home before 9:00 to meet the movers, and I had nothing to feed her… Until I remembered some Junior Mints that I still had in my purse from a trip to the movies a few nights before…

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I quickly handed them back to her and said, “Hurry up and eat these! I’ve got to go!”

She responded with complete elation… “You’re feeding me candy for breakfast?!?!? You be the best mommy in the whole word ever!”

As I walked her into her classroom, the mommy-guilt was running high. I felt like the worst parent in the world, and I was kinda nervous she would tell her teacher, which wouldn’t make me look good at all… No it would not!

It was then that I kneeled down in front of her, and begged… “Look, Harper,” I said. “I’m sorry I fed you those Junior Mints, but I am in a hurry because of the movers. You just have to promise me this one thing… Tell NO ONE about this. Don’t tell any of your friends…. And DO NOT tell your teacher. Promise me that Harper. Promise me you won’t tell anyone I gave you Junior Mints for breakfast!”

“I promise, Mommy,” she told me…

Then, she walked into the classroom and immediately shouted, “Guess What?!?!? My mommy give me candy for breakfast!!! She the best mommy in the world!!!”

“No, I didn’t,” I lied straight to the teacher’s face, before running out of the classroom… effectively teaching my child bad nutrition habits and also how to lie.

3) While standing in line at the grocery store, when my child was 3-years-old, a woman stood behind us with a generous amount of unwaxed facial hair.

Harper pointed to the woman and in a loud voice said… “IS THAT A WOMAN?!?!?”

“Yes,it is!” I said, smiling and looking at the woman… “And she is sooooo beautiful!”

4) Once at a racetrack, a four-year-old Harper and her friend were bored. A kind man with a gentle yellow Labrador Retriever told the girls they could pet his dog. While we all turned away watching the race, the girls were playing with the dog behind us. I wasn’t paying attention until I heard Harper say, “What are these, Mommy? The doggie has funny fur spots!”

When I turned around, I was horrified to see Harper and her friend holding the dog’s testicles and petting them like two small mice.

“Girls! Get your hands off the dog’s privates!!!” I shouted, like a terrible scene from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The man turned around as well with a startled look… “Thanks! They love dogs!” I said, before whisking them away.

5) At a Tiny Tot Dance Class, Harper at age two, sat in a circle with five small girls. The teacher posed a question to the class: “Tell me something that makes you different!”

One girl said… “I have a doggie!”

Another girl said… “I love my Kitty!”

Harper said… “My Mom feeds me wine!”…

In truth, I DO NOT feed my child wine.

I have no idea how she even knew about drinking wine…

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But… The bottom line is this… You can run, but you can’t hide from your child’s honest and sometimes cringe-worthy revelations… Not even when you are the President.

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