Well, the time finally came. I had to have the “S-word” talk with our 8 year old. No, not the sex talk…The Santa talk. It became painfully obvious to me last year that he didn’t believe anymore. But I thought if we could just make it through the holiday without him blurting it out to his younger brother and sister, we’d be able to let it go for one more year. So how did that year pass so fast?
A few weeks ago it was just the two of us cleaning up his room. At our house it seems so rare to get alone time with any of my kids, so I knew the timing was right. I took a deep breath and carefully broached the subject. We both tip-toed around for a bit…and finally with a smile he said, “Mom, I’ve known since I was like, 5.” (Ouch!) But I wasn’t surprised. So we talked about it.
I told him how when I was his age my mom took me to Pizza Hut and it seemed like a great time to tell her that I didn’t believe anymore…and how I cried because I didn’t want her to be mad at me…and how she made me go have my picture taken with the big guy that very afternoon…one last time. I told him about the year my brother and I found all of our presents hidden away before Christmas, already wrapped and taped with (then new) magic tape…and how we ever-so-cleverly opened every single gift to get a sneak peak…and how we ever-so-cleverly taped each one back together when we were done…and how we didn’t anticipate that the tape would eventually lose its stickiness…and how when my mom went to get them to put them under the tree they had all “popped” back open…and how we were so busted.
We also talked about how I still believe in the spirit of Santa. He was confused. So the only way I could think to explain it was to compare it to Disney magic. When you go to Disney World you know that magic isn’t real. But you chose to let yourself believe in it anyway because it makes it all so much more fun. That’s how I feel about Santa. He totally got it! (Score one for mom.)
Ben swore up and down to me that he hadn’t ruined it for his 6 year old brother (although he’s starting to drop hints that he’s in on the secret too…double ouch!). He said he’d act excited so he wouldn’t ruin it for his 4 year old sister. And I promised him one extra present if he kept the secret. At the very end of our conversation he asked, “So…where do you hide all the presents?” As if, kid…as if.
And just like that, it’s the end of an era in our house. We will never again have 3 kids who fall asleep listening for Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. We will be lucky if we get another 4 years of wonder and belief out of our youngest. We will never have all 3 kids wake up on Christmas morning and run to see if Santa ate the cookies. Such is the life of a mom of little kids. You spend all your time making sure they have everything they need to grow up right….and then when they grow up, it hits you like a ton of bricks. It really is bittersweet. But I’m so thankful it’s light on the bitter and heavy on the sweet.