The Lie

I did it. I told my 7 year old that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy were just things we believed in and hoped for, but weren’t exactly real. It was awful. First, I want to say that from the time he was born, I debated with my husband, on whether or not we should lie to our children about this topic.  It truly bothered me. My husband, who had survived two older boys said that it was fine to believe in things that weren’t real, and that we would confess when the time was right. He made it sound so simple. The lie part of it was. Well, when you start with a lie, and continue that lie for years, when exactly, is the time right? Never, actually.

I have some friends, who have always told their children that these characters of certain holidays, and celebrations, didn’t exist. They’ve been truthful from the beginning, while explaining that it was a discussion that should only be held within their family, because most kids were lied to. Although, I’m sure they didn’t exactly phrase it like that. That is probably my own guilt talking.

I remember the day I found out it was all a lie. I was washing dishes. My older  brother was drying. I was in the second grade, and he in the fourth. He blew the whistle, not only on my mother’s horrific lies, but he also chose to hit me with a twofer – the truth on how babies were made. What a shock. My mom confirmed the truth, and although I was always grateful for my brother, as I didn’t want to be the only second grader walking around believing in untruths, I was also heartbroken. It should have been my mom, right? Although, how could she know when this traumatic event/right of passage would occur for me? When exactly is the right time?

You may think I’m being a bit dramatic, but to see my baby realize that I was speaking the truth, and to laugh amidst the shock, and follow it up with some tears and real sadness, was awful. He needed details. Where do the teeth go? Let me see them. Who hides the Easter eggs? Who eats the cookies we leave out for Santa? Who is that guy in the picture that looks like Santa? Where do my letters go that I send to the North Pole? Inside I’m thinking, “wow, we really do create an extensive lie just for our own enjoyment.” Yes, we see the joy on our children’s faces, when we speak of Santa and his reindeer. As if they would only have joy for the Christmas Holiday if they believed in a fictitious invisible man and his flying animals? Then, when we see that they are putting things together, we create a bigger lie, only to eventually traumatize them by telling them that for 7 years, they were lied to. Awesome.

I know I could have waited a few more Christmas seasons. However, it was really bothering me. It was important to me that he hear it from me. Very important. I would have felt terrible if he discovered the truth on the playground. It was my lie, and I was going to own up to it, dammit. So, I took a random opportunity, and had the talk. I started with a hint at the possiblity that Santa and The Tooth Fairy may not exist. I also suggested that it was possible that it was a belief that makes us feel good, and threw in a few “using our imagination” terms and watched him process it. It took a good 10 minutes of letting him work it out. Then I held him and talked about it some more while he cried.

Then, after those 10 minutes, he realized something, and had a change of heart. He realized that he had a one-up on his brothers. He had grown-up knowledge that his little brothers did not,  and he couldn’t wait to use it. He asked if he could help wrap the “Santa” presents and hide the Easter eggs for his younger brothers for the upcoming holidays. Let the lies commence. Awesome.

3 Responses to “The Lie”

  • Ann Wray:

    Sarah you have a future in writing this is wonderful. So to the point of what the experience really is. Terrific. BTW I was shattered too when I learned but still learning from your mother rather than some mean person at school is great.

  • Becky:

    This is very interesting, considering Lilly just lost her second tooth last night and couldn’t wait to give it to the tooth fairy. I am one of those parents that shares K’s thinking. I like the idea that the innocence is still alive in my children. I think they have plenty of time to be jaded in life when they get older, why not let them get excited about something fictitious for a while? I do, however remember when I finally realized that, indeed, Santa did not exist. I still wouldn’t have changed my childhood experience of looking forward to Santa’s visit, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. But, just like everything in life…to each their own! Just another reason why life is so awesome! We have the freedom to make our own choices in life! I think the way you broke it down for your sweet boy was very endearing. I’m sure he appreciates the respect you showed him and will grow up with one more fantastic memory with his momma! :)

  • Cousin Jim:

    I just came across your blog this evening. I love your blog and wish I had half your literary talent. My oldest will be turning 7 in June, and the cracks are begining to show in the veil of myths. I’ve been contimplating how to approach it too. I think I’ll do what you’ve do e and just face the music and fess up.

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