December 17th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Daddy, do you believe in Santa?
The question apprehensively lobbed from the back of the mini van. They were at that age around which doubt trickles in. Questions no matter how much they’d like to hold them at bay begin to push fissures onto their innocence. “Of course Santa is real … but then how come I haven’t ever seen him?” “What about apartments with no chimneys?” “Flying deer?”
They had reached that threshold. The fear of the truth succumb to the need to know. At the risk of getting what they did not want hear, they asked the closest thing to a reliable source of truth – good old Dad. It was a brave question, a direct question around which there was precious little room to dance. “Do I believe in Santa? Yes or no?” I peaked at my kids in the rear view mirror. Holding their Christmas hopes in my hand, I began to dance.
What do you think? Do you believe in Santa?
Kid #1: Yes. I believe Santa is real.
Kid #2: Me too.
Kid #3: (Too young to care)
(They begin cite flimsy circumstantial evidence ie. stuffed stockings, the bite out of the cookie and the half drunk glass of milk; in a vain effort to assuage their doubts)
Kid #1: What about you Dad? Do you think Santa is real?
You know, I’m more interested in what you all think. Why do you want him to be real?
Kid #1: Because he’s nice and gives us presents.
Kid #2: Yeah, he gives us Christmas gifts.
Kid #1: Yeah, I think he’s real.
The reason I danced around the question is two fold. One, I believe the innocence of children is a beautiful thing. Their extraordinary ability to suspend disbelief is rooted in humility. They have not learned to trust themselves first and foremost. I wanted them to hang onto that innocence as long as possible. Secondly, I have determined to tell my children the truth. When the question was posed, the first thing that ran through my mind was this: In years to come, I will tell them that certain things are true, real – things that will be difficult for them to believe. When I tell them these things, I do not want them to have a single experience with me in which I told them something was true when it was not.