Almost exactly a year ago, I got a call from Boogie’s pre-school teacher. I distinctly remember her crying and wondered why she was calling me instead of dealing with that. Then I heard my child’s voice rising above the din. It was clear and emphatic. “I’m just trying to tell you the truth!”
“Oh no,” I thought, “what is this pint size Malcolm X situation that my child is involved in?”
“Bassey [I don’t play that Ms or Mrs. Ikpi stuff. I refuse],” Ms. Dia breathed into the phone exasperated. “I need you to talk to Elaiwe.”
Apparently, that day my child informed every one of his classmates that there was no Santa Claus and if there was, he was not responsible for their gifts. I got Boogie on the phone to hear his side of things.
“Mommy, I was just telling them how all their presents come from their aunties and uncles and grandmas and grandpas and mommies and daddies. I don’t know why everyone is crying!”
“Boogs, you can’t really do that. You have to let people believe what they want to believe if it’s not hurting anyone. Stop talking to them about it.”
My son is super smart and as I’ve mentioned, we don’t do the baby talk thing. We never have and much to the dismay of other parents, well, Boogie knows a little too much. If he asked a question and it wasn’t weird, I answered it. Simple as that.
He asked where babies came from when he was three and I distracted him with a Happy Meal. Don’t judge me. I wasn’t ready. That was okay until one day while at the grocery store, he loudly asked, “Whose baby did you have to eat in order to have me in your belly?”
And then there was Santa. I've never believed in Santa. My parents were hardworking immigrants to this country and they weren’t having that mess. I concluded early that if there was a Santa, he only visited rich white children. I was fine with that.
When Boogie was born, I didn’t think about Santa much. It wasn’t a matter of telling him or not telling him, he just never believed it. When he was four, while watching a Christmas special on TV, he turned to me and asked why Santa only brought presents on Christmas. What about birthdays and just because it’s Tuesday? Wouldn’t that be the nice thing to do? My answer might have been something like, "Just watch the show, kid.”
From then on, there was no talk of Santa. And who was I to introduce the topic? He’ll be fine. Take the Easter Bunny, for instance. That he believed. Boogie has enough magic and wonder all up in his mental mind.
So imagine my recent confusion when Boogie's hard line stance on Santa suddenly flip flopped. Fast forward to today, while driving Boogie to his new, fancy Catholic school, I heard him pipe up from the backseat, “Oh my gosh. Mommy, listen. I’m so excited that Santa is coming on Saturday.”
“What do you mean Santa is coming on Saturday?”
“It’s Christmas Eve. That’s when he comes.”
“What? I thought you didn’t believe in Santa!”
“Oh, I do now. He came to my school the other week and he knew my name! And then all the grown ups were talking about him and the big kids and it has to be true, right? Because everyone can’t lie, right?”
Uh... yeah. And then I distracted him with a Happy Meal. Just kidding. But seriously, what do you say to that? “Everyone can’t be lying”?
I’m not a cynic. I don’t believe everyone lies, but how do you teach a 5-year-old that just about every adult he meets is lying to him about this Santa guy. I tried to explain to him that Santa was about magic and he wasn’t an actual real person. Nope. Boogie had proof. He came to his school and he knew his name. OK. I tried to distract him with the real meaning of Christmas. I’m not religious, but I invoked the name and birth of Jesus. Then Boogie hit me with this:
“Santa is Jesus’ cousin.”
“Where did you get that from?”
“It makes sense. Jesus can have cousins!”
“I know, E, but...”
“Santa is Jesus’ cousin, mommy. How do you not know that?”
“Oh, don’t get pretentious, Mr. I-just-learned-to-read-last-Tuesday!” I panicked, OK?
So what do I do now? Do I go along with this Santa is Jesus’ cousin thing and then be one of the adults that has lied to him when he really figures out the truth? Or do I set him straight when he comes home from school? Or maybe I should just let it play out and let Boogie come to his own conclusions once again? I seriously don’t know.
For those out there in xoJane winter's wonder land, when did you fnd out there was NO SANTA CLAUS? And did it scar you for life?