Posts Tagged ‘Santa’

How Santa Claus is different from dinosaurs, I’m not sure.

November 9, 2015

The Christmas season is in full swing at Casa de Katie – and you can just hold all your moans and groans because it almost undid me, and I think that’s punishment enough.

It happened not this weekend, but last. (It’s taken me a few days to adjust.) I was starting to pull out presents I had tucked away, get them all sorted into spreadsheets, and then, as a reward, wrap a few. Bee-girl was off playing with Xman and Gracie was just sort of tumbling about the house from one random project to another, and so I did what I seem to be doing a lot these days as Bee pairs off with the Xman instead of her sister – I asked Gracie to help me.

All of this bonus mama-and-Gracie time is great. We’re bonding at a time when we really need to be; it’s almost time for Gracie-boo to start teening hard, and I really want our relationship to be as rock solid as it can be before she starts hating me and rebelling and figuring out who she is apart from me. I like cranking open the lines of communication and having long pointless (no really) talks because she needs them. And I need her to know I’ll listen, even when I really don’t want to.

So we were hanging out, Christmas-ing. And when we were about to dive back into my closed-off room for Round Two when Bee got her feelings a bit trampled. She insisted on knowing what was going on. She knew it had something to do with Christmas. She knew we were wrapping presents. And finally she asked, “How can you have so many presents to wrap?”

There it was.

Look, Bee-girl is in 4th grade. She’s 9. Nine. She made it both further than we ever thought (she’s nine) and showed no signs of stopping at the same time (she was rock solid in her believe just days ago). But her dad and I had decided that if – when – she asked any more pointed questions, questions that showed she knew, that she was ready, we wouldn’t lie any more.

And so I told Bee that if she wanted to know, if she wanted me to confirm what she suspected, I would…but it might break her heart. I put it just like that so she could walk away. But that Bee-girl of mine figured it out (you could see the flash and fizzle in her eyes), squared her chin, and said yes she did want to know.

So I told her. And then I prepared for the worst. Bee is so spirited, so full of whimsy and magic and pure belief, I thought for sure she would be my princess who cried. After all, two summers ago she had cried when she found out that the little slimy plastic dinosaurs who hatch from eggs when placed in jars of water weren’t real, live dinosaurs. This Santa thing was going to destroy her.

Only it didn’t. She instantly declared that she didn’t believe me. My jaw might have dropped open. I might have started arguing with her in a yes-it-is, no-it-isn’t sort of way. Then I asked if she wanted to see a present all wrapped and labeled from Santa to show her it really, truly was me. When I showed her one that Gracie and I had just wrapped, her shoulder sagged even as she I-TOLD-YOU-SO insisted that she had known for a Christmas or two but didn’t want to say anything. And then immediately asked if she could wrap Gracie’s presents since Gracie was wrapping hers. She wanted – no, she demanded – in on the sneakery. And that is kind of when I smacked myself upside the head for not counting on brave, never-let-them-see-me-cry, sneaky Bee-girl to save the day. Yes, she is full of whimsy, but how had I forgotten how stubborn and sneaky and AWESOME my kid is? Of course that’s how things played out.

So it turned out once again that I was left asking my child if she wanted to cry a little, and my child staring at me like I was nuts. I am, a little. Or a lot. We went through the routine about not telling anyone and how it’s up to us to make sure the Xman believes for years and years and Bee rallied like I had told her the Battle of Britain was entirely up to her.

We’re down one believer in the house. My heart hurts – god, the ache is crazy – to think that I have no more believers. But then I remember that the universe brought me another Little and that we still get to pretend. It’s like I’m being gently ushered into Grown-Up Land, myself.

Dang those kids of mine for making it so hard to go kicking and screaming, and instead making grace the answer. Guess I’ll have to do it their way: with sneakiness and strategery and big, big hearts.

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The Thanta Bwiefing.

February 5, 2013

For those of you who weren’t blessed with my pitiful little hyperventilating self yesterday, yesterday was A Day. The morning started out quite normal; we were all bustling around getting ready for school and for work, when all of a sudden, Gracie bit down the wrong way on a piece of cereal, yelled, and then declared that she was pretty sure she could pull her tooth out. And then she did. Normal so far, yes? Except then it happened…

After biting down on a paper towel to stop the bleeding, Gracie says, “Mom, I think the tooth fairy should give me some extra money. Since I pulled the tooth myself.”

Oh ho ho ho – the words sounded innocent enough, but I looked up at my darling little eight-year-old because those words sounded awfully full of knowing. I looked right at her, Gracie looked right at me, and damnit to the mothership if her eyes were sparkling with mischief. Did she know? She must! Wait…did she? Was she in on the Tooth Fairy Conspiracy? She had asked very leading questions about Santa the past two Christmases, but since her sister had been around each time, so there wasn’t a chance for me to confirm her suspicions. The only option I had was to heap shovels full o’ magic and believing on top of her and cross my fingers. I thought it worked…but did it?

I sent the kids off to school and then, yeah, I started breathing into a paper bag. The Ex agreed. I was going to have to do it. I was going to have The Talk with Gracie about who exactly was behind all that magic. And then her childhood would be over and she might hate me and my heart would break into a million pieces. And how was your Monday?

One of my co-workers tried reassuring me: didn’t I remember when I knew, but didn’t want to know, and didn’t want to let on that I knew so I could keep the presents coming? NOOOOO!, I told him! I never suspsected! I was the gullible kid who kept right on believing, until my mom had to break it to me sometime after Christmas in third grade, and before fourth grade. I remember bawling, sitting there on my bed. I felt so betrayed by my mom, and so sad that there was no such thing as magic. I think having the magic ripped away was even worse than feeling betrayed.

You can see why I was little worried. Kim told me she thought Gracie would be fine. Gracie loves being in on secrets, and feeling like a grown-up – what better set up for that is there?! She could help me wrap Bee’s presents and feel like she’s in on alllll the secrets. Massive power trips always make her feel better. Ah, but I know my Gracie, and she’s also prone to dramatics. Her heartbreak could be epic. This could have gone down either way.

Which is why, last night when her sister was in the bath, I handed the kiddo a soda to try to buy me some goodwill. “Gracie, I have to talk to you about something.”
“Uh…okay.”
“When you said you thought you should get extra money for pulling your own tooth…did you believe that? Do you really believe in the tooth fairy?” I allowed a note of incredulousness into my voice, trying to lead her to the right answer.
“Absolutely!” she fervently agreed. “Who else could find Bee’s tooth when she lost it outside and put it back under her pillow?”

Crap.

I changed tactics. “You don’t believe that Steggy – your sister’s dinosaur is real, do you?”
“No. I just say I do so she won’t be afraid. There aren’t dinosaurs outside, Mom. And they’re not nocturnal.”
“Right. Because that isn’t logical. It doesn’t make any sense. We just pretend so she’ll feel good and so she’ll believe in magic, and because it’s a little fun Like tooth fairies.”

I had to spell the whole dang thing out for her. And, um, whoops – she really didn’t have any idea. I explained the tooth fairy – and assured her that she would still get money, that nothing would change even after her sister had outgrown it. Then I had to explain that meant Santa too. I thought Gracie would break down then – she looked absolutely devastated. But she rallied when she remembered that she had even said that Santa’s handwriting looked like mine. Bless her little codebreaking heart. She connected the dots to the Easter Bunny on her own. And then she did panic.

“What about God, Mom?”

Rather than give her a complete existential crisis (hey, an 8-year-old can only take so much), I said simply, “God is real. Well, God is still the same.” She can grapple with this is-he-or-isn’t-he when she’s a little more equipped to figure out her own answer. But it made me giggle a little later that one of her first reactions was to think that the entire religious sector was in on pulling a fast. I mean, I guess that made as much sense as learning that parents were playing Santa.

After that, she was completely okay. As in, unfazed. As in, really, not a single tear shed. The complete opposite of where I thought the night was going. “Are you okay? Really? You’re fine?” I asked her more than once. I told her about when I found out so she’d feel like she had “permission” to lose it a little, if she wanted. Then I played up the whole top secret nature of the Santa conspiracy. She was NOT to tell her sister – she could help me play Santa, but she wasn’t to say anything. She could NOT tell her friends. Most of them probably didn’t know, and even asking if they believed might be the thing that made them not believe any more, and that wasn’t fair. She could talk to any grown-up about it as long as she made sure it was in private, so little kids didn’t accidentally overhear anything. And, most of all, she was NOT to overdo it around her sister or anyone. “You’re a horrible liar, Gracie,” I told her. And it’s true: if she’s lying for someone else, if there isn’t any self-preservation involved, the kid couldn’t lie to save her life. Lying to me about brushing her teeth, though, sometimes she can get away with it.

Gracie laughed, knowing how true my statement was, and agreed to all of the club rules. That was it. In the blink of an eye, my kiddo wasn’t a little kid anymore. In real life. She was cool with it. We didn’t even need to make an emergency phone call to Auntie Kim, who, anticipating her ability to talk out loud after a root canal, starting practicing saying, “Thanta ith weal in thpirit, Gwacie.” But all the practice was in vain – Gracie, it turns out, is more ready to grow up than any of the grown-ups in her life are. Which is just as it should be.

Quote of the Day.

November 20, 2011

Overheard this morning as my ducklings were getting ready for church with Grandma and Gracie was yelling across the house to tattle on her sister, who had “borrowed” her sister’s purse without asking:

Bee: If you let me borrow it, Santa will be happy and bring you something extra.

Brainwashing completed.