It happened last night. It was inevitable. I knew it was coming, like murky grey clouds hanging over my house….the electric smell of a storm brewing. I had avoided it for almost a year. I kept thinking to myself….just one more year, a little more time, I am just not ready yet. We were sitting outside on the balcony. I inhaled a long drag off of my P-Funk and blew it away from him, as always when he would come out with me. The smoke just hung in the air like those cartoon bubbles above characters heads….just waiting for the silence to break. Then he asked….
“Mom….is Santa Claus real?”
I stopped breathing for a second or five…all possible answers flew through my head like a swarm of locusts on a crop.
“What do your friends say about it?”, I questioned back quicker than I thought.
“They said he isn’t real…that your parents do everything…so do all the kids in my class.”, he responded. He was matter of fact. Just as if he were telling me what time it was.
“What do you believe?”, I quietly said.
“I think he’s real.”…..And there it was. The answer I didn’t want to hear. He is going to be nine years old in exactly one month. I found out when I was about seven or so. Now what? I was so happy I squeaked by last year with answers like, “Do you think I want to stay up all night and put presents together?”….”Why would you think I would do all of that…I’m tired.” I refer to myself in the singular only because in the past eight years there had not been one Christmas Eve where Ted had been awake long enough to do it all. I was Santa all these years.
Jake is extremely mature for an eight year old. People don’t give him enough credit for how smart he is or for how much of the real world he does understand. He’s in third grade, reading at a fifth grade level….and a math genius. How do you lie to a genius?
So I did the dirty deed.
I explained it all. Santa…St. Nicholas…why people created the fantasy of such a person. A person with incredible influence and power over children. How does a child get over the fact that it is all a lie?
A lie is something you tell someone to hurt them. A lie is meant to be cruel….the fantasy of Santa is not a lie….it is a way of making children understand the concept of giving. It helps them to understand how to treat one another….how lucky we are and how unfortunate others may be. It is the reason we feed the hungry, house the homeless and drop our change and dollars into those red buckets every year outside of Wal-Mart.
He wasn’t upset. He wasn’t sad. He asked one question. “Well, if Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t real, then who I was talking to on the phone last year wasn’t real?”
Ummm…yea….here we go…..
“Well, they were real people, just not Santa and Mrs. Claus.”, I answered.
“Then who were they?”, he asked.
“Your aunt and uncle.”, I said timidly.
“So, they lied to me.”, he responded…so quickly and with a shred of anger.
I proceeded to explain how it wasn’t really considered a lie, as it was not meant to hurt him in any way. It was merely meant to keep up with the illusion of the Santa myth. (I didn’t say that part ver batim….I skirted around that one as much as possible). At this moment, Ted came in from walking the dog. I proceeded to tell him the entire story. He didn’t react as I expected. He was extremely angry that I didn’t “consult” him before telling Jake the truth about Santa. Really?
I mean fucking REALLY?
Three months ago Jake asked the sex question. I “consulted” him on that one and he proceeded to simply say….”Oh no, you got this one.” and threw his hands in the air. So I took it and with the maturity that Jake has, he handled it just fine, matter of fact, not really even surprised at all. He just said, “Oh, ok”, and shrugged his shoulders.
Ted was so enraged about this life altering decision I had made that he went on and on for over an hour. I defended myself, Jake told him to knock it off…that he was just fine and to “get over it”, which I found completely hysterical.
After Jake fell asleep and Owen was bathed and finally in la-la land too, I proceeded to give Ted the silent treatment. For someone who says that I talk too much and to leave him alone during an argument, he cannot stand the silent treatment. It kills him. He tries any and everything to get me to give him some sort of response…none of it worked.
About 11:00 PM, Ted got up to go to bed. I simply said, “Ted, if it will make you feel better, I’ll give you the Easter Bunny and the fucking Tooth Fairy…..ok?”