Friday, December 26, 2008

What Now?

Over on Unfogged, they're wondering why and how kids would fall for that whole Santa thing, and why they don't clue one another in, which cracks me up, since my tiny Jewish Enlightenment thinker has, recently, been on her very own one-woman quest to do just that, through the Upper-El at her school.

"Ryan still believes in Santa!" she declaimed to me, back in October.  "And the Tooth Fairy!  And the Easter Bunny!"

"Well," I said, "you know, that's really his business."

"But he's nine!"

She went around interrogating classmates (there are only six students in Upper El, three in fifth grade and three in fourth) and reporting to me daily on who believed in what, along with the lengthy arguments she gave them for why such mythical critters as Tooth Fairies and elves did not, in fact, exist. (She would make an excellent Inquisitor, I suspect.)

"Dude! I told her, it's just your parents!  They write the note!  They put it under your pillow!  Don't be a sap!"

"Sweetie," I said, "really--"

"But it's stupid, Mom!  They don't exist!"

"I know, but--"

"Ryan says when I grow up and have kids, and I see Santa bringing presents to them, then I'll believe."  She made a face of enormous contempt.  "First, I'm not having kids.  Second, Jewish!  Third, there IS NO SANTA!"

I grinned a little, intrigued.  "What did he say to that?"

"He says everyone has kids.  Jesus sends them kids."  She rolled her eyes.  "I had to tell him that is NOT how it happens."

"Um," I said.  "You didn't tell him..."

"Not at school, Ma!"  She rolled her eyes again.  "But Fern and Sarah agreed with me, they told him Jesus doesn't just send kids, you have to get married and do something first.  Which I'm never going to do, so."

"Well, you don't have to get married," I said, "but you do have to have sex.  And if you do have sex," I added, as always, "what are you going to do?"

"Birth control," she said, "but I'm ten, Ma, and I'm NOT having sex, Jeez."

"All right then," I said.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the tooth fairy, my husband has a cousin who never was the sharpest pencil in the box. When he was a child, his older brother finally tired of the tooth fairy obsession and told the boy that Mom was the tooth fairy. The child thought about it for a moment and then asked, "Well then why is she living with us?"


zelda1 said...

My daughter didn't really fall for the santa thing but until she was about 13 or 14, she bought the Easter Bunny. I was recently at a faculty party here on the Hill and there were all these little ones running around and the ten-year-olds were busy trying to show us that they didn't buy into the santa thing. Both of the big kids kept over doing the santa thing for the sake of the little ones but they wanted us to know that they really didn't believe. It was very cute and reminded me of when I found out there was no santa. I must have been around eight or nine and I felt it my duty to provide my sister fuel for her santa fantasy. Santa is one of those things, though, that even though I'm old as ashes, I still feel all sentimental when I see him, even if it is behind the mall and even if he is swigging out of a bottle of something or smoking a joint. It's santa for chirst's sake.

tonkelu said...

On one level the whole Santa thing is kind of a selfish indulgence for parents. I love that the Tonklings gets so excited for the jolly old elf. It's nice that, for a few years at least, they believe (truly, truly believe) in magic. And while they believe they love it.

OTOH, I do feel a little guilty for lying to them but have been very careful to not overdo the lie. JP asked me this year if Santa was real. I hedged and said that for as long as he believed in Santa, Santa would come. If he'd wanted to know the honest truth, I would've told him. I could tell, though, that what he needed was some assurance that Santa was actually planning to stop at our house.

I appreciate where the kid is coming from but hopefully she doesn't wreck it for her friends. I want to be the one to tell the Tonklings the truth and the whys behind it. Like zelda said, it's just Santa. It's not like we're deluding them into believing something horribly detrimental.

delagar said...

I read a study a few years ago that said belief in Santa was actually good for children's moral development. Santa as an arbiter of good/evil (good/bad) did more to develop kids' moral compasses than a belief in God did, interestingly enough: he had that list, apparently, and kids could focus on it, and Santa was a benevolent figure who cared about that, whereas God/Jesus was too abstract, plus that whole lake of fire deal...and, apparently, finding out that their parents had made him up had utterly no effect on their moral development. It was a cool article.

zelda1 said...

Hey, that's probably why I never once considered that Santa didn't save me because I was not good enough.

Anonymous said...

As a kid I was taught the Christian story but that Santa was the Spirit of Christmas - not a particular being. The department store Santa was a field agent (using modern terms).

But about the Easter Bunny - our house rabbit Bunzon is a local distribution agent for EB LLC and will loudly attest (THUMP) as to EB's reality.