Up until recently, I realized I hadn’t thought much about The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Santa (and certainly not that pesky elf) much prior to becoming a parent. As my children grow older (they are now 5) I’m finding just how much these made up characters permeate holidays and life events. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the holidays. I just can’t shake the thought that I am lying to my children about the existence of a mythical character.
I probably could have gone along with it a lot longer if they didn’t ask so many dang questions! “Mommy, does the elf really move by itself?” “How can Santa get to all the kids in one night?” “Does the tooth fairy really come in my room at night?” Did you get me this Easter basket?” The more questions they ask, the more I feel like I’m digging deeper into a labyrinth of untruths.
It’s one of those parenting moments when you feel like you want to be true to what you believe, but at the same time, you don’t want to totally ruin your child or become a social outcast. I completely respect that the stories and these holiday characters are very dear to many parents, and don’t think it’s wrong or detrimental to a child to believe in them. I think it’s more important to honor what feels right for you and your family.
Despite my thinking, for now, I’ve been (somewhat) going with it. When my kids start to ask questions, I usually say something like, “Interesting. What do you think?” So far I’ve been able to scoot by my little interrogators with that, but it won’t be long before I’m fairly certain I will crack under the weight of their questioning.
I remember enjoying believing in the holiday characters as a kid and didn’t feel let down to know they weren’t real upon finding out. But is this how all kids are? Will mine be as accepting knowing the truth? The longer the story continues the more tied to it they will become. I’m pretty sure most of us grew up that way. I doubt we are all suffering from trust issues because we were told they weren’t real, but I the thoughts are still circling my brain. I’m especially reminded about my uneasiness every time someone asks my kids “what did Santa bring you?” “Did the Easter bunny visit your house?”
Then there’s the whole reward aspect in which I don’t participate in. I don’t tell the kids Santa is watching and making sure they are good enough to earn some plastic junk, nor do I tell them the same about the Easter bunny or the elf, and though we haven’t made it to the tooth fairy yet, I have a hard time with her making an appearance with cash because my kid had a normal bodily function. I’m sure I sound like I’m no fun at all, but I do enjoy a fairy tales and imaginative play as much as the next gal. I also believe my kids will still have wonderful holiday memories without the grandiose storyline, trinkets, and money.
For now, I’m going with the “answer a question with a question” approach and see where that takes me. I don’t want to flat out tell them “it’s not real and your friends and everyone else are lying or being lied to.” I don’t really see it that way anyway. It’s part of our culture, and a way for us to all live in imagination for a while. Time will tell how it plays out for us, but I hope that my kids will find out for themselves through asking questions and thinking for themselves on this one.