Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I is for Innocence

The other night as my 8-year old was on the verge of drifting off she said, "Mama, if I ask you something will you tell me the truth?" Now this is one question I dread as much from my daughter as I'd dreaded it from my mum in my teenage.

So anyway.. "Yes," said I.
"Is Santa for real or do papas and mamas give us gifts every Christmas?"
Whew.. What could I do? I'd promised to tell the truth so truth it had to be...the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The deluge of tears that followed was heart wrenching.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she sobbed after I'd very deliberately, very surely killed Santa. "I argued with all my friends. They told me there was no Santa and I didn't believe them. I believed only you."

Heartbreaking! O I felt so guilty.

"Who will we decorate the tree for? Who will we keep the cookies for?" she went on.. And then the thought struck her "Did YOU eat up all the cookies we kept for Santa? And the letters we wrote to him.. all lies."

And more questions..
"Are there no reindeers either mama?"
"No," said I, shamefaced.
"No Rudolph?"
"No".

"If I hadn't asked you, you'd have never told me and then when I had babies I wouldn't have bought them gifts thinking Santa would get them and then on Christmas day they wouldn't have had any gifts at all. How sad they would have been."  Some thought!

Finally after a long sad time we managed to console her.. not convince mind you, just console her.. that there had been a Santa long time back and then parents had just taken over after he passed away. Next morning having slept over the issue and apparently having given the matter plenty of thought she said, "Mama when I die (death and dying are pretty much dinner table conversations here) and I am born again and if you're my mama again please don't ever tell me that there's no Santa. It feels really sad".

Even as I hugged her I wonder how would I handle it given a second chance.


Coming from her it sounded like I'd woven such an elaborate web of lies, which of course I had. So what should I have done? Killed the Santa story completely? That would be so sad. Or maybe I shouldn't have built it up and embellish it as much. Definitely NOT make it the core of Christmas celebrations. How deeply I regretted not telling the twins about it earlier... or at least hinting at it.

My son had seemed unconcerned through this entire exchange. However in one of his Hindi worksheets on Christmas when they had to write a line about Santa this is what he wrote.. "Our parents give us gifts but we think Santa has come".




What do you think, people? Do your kids know there's no Santa? How old were they when they find out? How did they react?

I'm dreading Christmas this year.


PS: A few days later my daughter wanted another clarification.. 'Are tooth fairies also not for real?"

Linking to ABC Wednesday  a fun challenge for bloggers.

51 comments:

  1. A mother is in soup when confronted with such questions . Even I have gone through this part and it's very difficult to convince children and the next obvious question is , 'why did u lie?'

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    1. Right, I hadn't even thought about it as lying.

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  2. NIce post...it's never easy being a mother !

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    1. Never.. there are times when you cannot get it right at all.

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  3. Great post! Glad I stopped in.

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    1. Welcome Gerladine. Thanks for your kind words.

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  4. It is hard, but our boys enjoyed the traditions even after being told.
    Sometimes pretend is magical.

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    1. I'm hoping this Christmas the twins learn to enjoy it too without Santa.

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  5. I actually love Santa and still believe in it... that each of us is a Santa. Now I tell my niece all about Santa and tooth fairies and all.... I'm dreading the day when she's gonna shoot me or her mom with such questions...

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  6. definitely not easy being a mother. i grew up not even knowing of the existence of a santa.

    frankly my dear

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    1. Yeah me too.. at least it wasn't as well defined a thought as my kids seem to have.

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  7. ha Ha! actually this is making me laugh because D always knew there's no Santa...I think because she's always so unconcerned. Not that the decor, the cookies and the tree is not there, there's also expectation of the gift but guess he knows its me. And even if she aks me about him some day I don't think she'll be as heartbroken as N if I tell her the truth. I think she's more interested in the gift, and not really Santa :P :D

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    1. How cool is D. If you haven't told her already, I say put it to her in black and white. I always thought the kids had some idea about Santa so this kind of took me by surprise.

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  8. My elder daughter also cried when I told her that Saint Nicholas, who was the predecessor of Santa, didn't excist. Thanks for your nice story!
    Wil, ABCW Team.

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    1. Aww.. you'll know then how hard this is. Thanks for dropping by.

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  9. Its true they know it . My son still writes his wish and puts it . He knows who his secret santa is . Wow H Hindi is awesome . Love his sentences . The highlight for me would be
    "Mama, if I ask you something will you tell me the truth?" Now this is one question I dread as much from my daughter as I'd dreaded it from my mum in my teenage. :)

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    1. Lol.. Nisha.. yes I dread it. God knows how many more 'truths' I'll have to reveal to her.

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  10. Personally to this day I keep the spirit of Santa Claus alive at my house. While both of my kids know that there really is no such thing, they keep the spirit alive as well. Between the baby Jesus and Santa, it just helps makes the holidays more festive somehow. I never told them, they just figured out how it worked on their own. It is fun.

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    1. That's cool Kathy. Santa does make Christmas more lively.

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  11. WHAT?! There's no Santa? Says who? I still believe!
    Truth is that I dodged the question with my daughter, and told her about the spirit of Christmas

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  12. When my daughter got to the age where she asked, I told her that we gave the presents but that Santa came and kissed them to spread the love after we went to sleep. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

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  13. I dont know Tulika. its as much about thr spirit of Santa as much as it is about him existing or not. Kids, once they believe in something strongly, it is quite heart wrenching for them to accept that things dont exist. But then again, kids these days are a lot more inquisitive and become worldly wise about such things a lot quicker. I like the rule of telling them the truth. In retrospect it might be useful if parents started telling kids the truth much earlier and inculcate the spirit of Christmas rather than waitimg for Santa to come down the chimney. That way they know they'll get gifts but are also realistic about it. Nice post

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    1. Yeah.. in retrospect that would have been a good idea. But you know the catch?? There'll be a whole lot of arm twisting for the gift. Since Santa was someone they couldn't talk to 'he' could give what he pleased!!!

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  14. Our kids learnt of the truth through their peer group and told us the truth! :)

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    1. That would have been way easier Deepak. But N went out and argued with them when they tried to tell her!

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  15. I want to keep the spirit of Santa alive for my future child!
    :)

    I want my child to believe in magic and fairies.. even though one knows its not all real. But, its nice to believe that magic does exist :)

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    1. Isn't it? But I think after a point they need to know the truth.

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  16. Oh, this is a tough one, Tulika. In my case, I would go with the flow and the age of the child. Since N and H are pretty much exactly Gy's age, they would need the truth at some point. The question I guess is more about not whether they have lost their innocence but their ability to wonder and believe. The part where you told them about Santa existing long ago, and having passed away, is probably okay, since they are also speaking about Death (another dicey topic). Parenting is never easy, Tulika. We stumble along in our own, unique ways. Don't beat yourself up :)

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    1. So does Gy know? Oh yes Death is a tough one but the kids seem very cool about it I think because they do not fully understand what it means.

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  17. I am laughing over H's last line "Hum samajhte hain ki Santa aya" It sounded as if he wants to say "Hum sab kitne ullu hai" :D
    A big hug to N. :)
    And how mean of you OM! If her future children not getting christmas gifts, it will all be because of their mean granny. :P

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    1. Heh heh... yeah I think that rankled with him! As for N's kids.. they're going to have it tough.. Gosh I almost laughed out at that one.

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  18. I could never tell my kids the "ugly truth" about Santa.. so I kind of returned their questions with questions... Think it is still possible to believe... they find out eventually anyway.. even now as teenagers I can sense they keep the spirit alive, in a more humorous way though. They KNOW, but pretend they don't... A bit easier for us perhaps because where my kids grew up in Norway we had the local myths of the small santas living on the farm protecting the animals , so every Christmas we went to the barn to put out Milk and porridge for them, to "have them on our side".. And in Greece -.the myth of Santa is based on a real person: Agios Vasilis who came with gifts to the orphans.. Oh my, sorry for a long comment here ... Kind of love the magic X-mas spirit u see:-) He he - lovely post, Tulika, and I agree- difficult to know sometimes... But now for the tooth-fairy - that is another story. (I'll never forget my daughter who lost her tooth in the sand on the beach (big drama), and then left this note next to her bed that evening "Dear tooth-fairy. I really lost my tooth today. You can find it on the beach." KIDS:-) :-)

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    1. Ha ha .. just imagining the tooth fairy sifting through the sand for that tooth!

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  19. Gosh! How sad and heartbreaking it must be for lil N! Who said, motherhood was easy!! SIGH!
    Thankfully, Aaryan figured that out pretty early. I guess, he was 6, when a few days before Christmas, he said, I want a new playstation CD for Christmas!! :D

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    1. What a relief that is.. In retrospect.. I'm glad I got over with it, finally.

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  20. Great post! Long live Innocence!!

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  21. Ohh that's so touching...she must really have been upset but don't worry she'll be fine.. The world of children is full of magic and mystery and they gave the gift of believing in things we can't maybe tht's why she felt hurt..And it must be so tough being a parent...sometimes doing the right thing is also so hard...One never knows what to say or what not to... Hats off to you!

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    1. It seems so trivial in retrospect but at that point it's such a huge deal.Yes it's a tough deal trying to decide the right thing to do.

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  22. Well, it is a shame that we all have to go through this with our children. But somehow we all survive and then they grow up and tell their own kids about Santa Claus. I think most kids sort of figure it out themselves eventually and everything calms down. And you can certainly keep the spirit of Santa alive - I still have letters that the girls wrote to me FROM Santa one year telling me that I'd done a great job as a Mommy!

    Leslie
    abcw team

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    1. How very sweet is that Leslie. You're one lucky mum.

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  23. I keep the Santa thing going even now my kids are grown. They worked it out a long time ago but the Santa sack just brings them and me great joy. I was also asked this question many times and my answer is always - it you believe then Santa is real, if you don't then he won't come. Kids grow up much too fast these days.

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    1. Right Suzy.. they really are growing up too fast.

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  24. Lovely post tulika...heart touching and hilarious both. .love the innocence of our children. .my little girl is a smarty...she is just 3 and I think she knows its mamma and papa or uncle and aunts who bring the gift for her... we are not yet too deep in building the fantasy story I guess...

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    1. Well then don't do it. Just remaining non-committal should be good.

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  25. ha ha beautiful! I wish i was still a kid!
    But expect more cross questioning in days to come :)

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  26. Kids are loved for their innocence.

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  27. Very touching. Yes, it is difficult to be parents and I am experiencing this with my 10 year old daughter...The innocence is getting evaporated slowly with a bite into knowledge....

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