Rebecca Nelson Lubin
I was thrown for a loop this week when my little charge, who, by the way is celebrating his forth birthday today, Friday, December 17th, announced in his bubble bath Monday night that he no longer believes in Santa Claus. I asked him what had made him reach such a huge conclusion at such a young age, and he basically explained that he was finding the entire idea somewhat…implausible.
“No one can really live at the North Pole,” he reasoned, “it’s too cold there!”
I went into spin mode like Hollywood publicists set afire.
“That’s why he wears the red fur suit!” I insisted, “to keep him warm!”
“Also I saw a guy in a Santa suit at Safeway,” he went on. “He was a fake Santa. There are a lot of fake Santa’s. There is no real Santa.”
“Those are his HELPERS!” I said, “The REAL Santa has HELPERS all over the world! Because he’s busy at the North Pole making Christmas presents! He’s probably making you a toy train right now!”
“Besides,” the boy went on like a small little litigator covered in lavender scented bubbles, “Reindeer can’t fly. They don’t have wings.”
“They fly by MAGIC. MAGIC makes the reindeer fly!”
He made a that funny little sound he’s been doing lately, the one that sounds somewhat like a fourteen year old guy saying “Sheesh, ” but leaving out the “s” and the “h” at the end because they are fourteen and lazy and totally smarter than you are.
I have been faced with this moment many times in my career as a Nanny, the magical moment where the children reach that magical age of reason and realize truth for truth and fiction for fiction and can’t wait to let you know that they have figured it out and joined you on the adult side of the shore of the childhood sea full of fairy tales that we feed them. Once on an overnight with Reni who was eight then but now is a twenty-three year old beauty, she confessed that recently she had snooped into a drawer of her mothers and found a little box full of her baby teeth. Weepy, she asked me, “Does this mean there is no Tooth Fairy?”
I suggested that perhaps her mother had a secret deal with the Tooth Fairy in which she had contracted to pay a higher fee in order to keep the baby teeth as mementos, and the follow up conversation with her mother gave Reni a greater respect for grownup’s privacy, as well as a sad farewell to the myth of the Tooth Fairy. She was eight, a respectable age for letting go of folklore. But my little charge was only three years and three hundred sixty one days old when he announced he was done with the whole silly Santa business!
“Who do you think puts the presents under the tree?” I asked him.
“Mom and Dad,” he replied, deadpan.
Maybe it is my memories of the thrill of laying awake and listening for Santa on Christmas Eve that makes me want him to keep believing. I can remember being six and totally convinced that Santa would come into my house through the trapdoor to the roof of our Queens duplex that was only accessible through my parent’s closet. I remember that I whispered to my brother, “I think I hear the reindeer!” I remember the sound that I thought was the Reindeer, like acorns falling on the roof. ..or possibly hoofs scraping. And I remember how wonderful it felt. I know I’m not ready to let him let go of that yet. But it’s not really up to me.
I picked him up from school two days after the Santa discussion, and he announced as I buckled him into his car seat that he had thought over the concept of the Tooth Fairy, and thought that one was full of baloney as well.
“So,” I said, “Who do you suppose leaves the money under your pillow?”
“The Mom.” He said.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at http://www.abandofwives.ning.com/