Saturday, 21 January 2012

A special kind of lie?

I have two sons. Ever since they were born I have tried to create a magical world for them when it comes to Christmas, wobbly teeth, Easter. I wanted them to feel the same way I did, when I was little, about Father Christmas, fairies ...

All went swimmingly for a long time. Each Christmas we would read stories by candlelight about The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol ... We would watch films about traditional Christmases and happy families touched by the warmth and magic of Santa, tooth fairies, Easter Bunnies ...

And then, one day, I went too far ... further than glitter sprinkled as fairy dust on my hearth, further than leaving teeth marks from Santa's reindeer on the carrots we left out ... One day I wrote a letter 'from Santa' to my son. I disguised my writing and wrote what I thought was a lovely heartfelt letter from a magical old man.


I reckoned without my son's razor sharp intelligence and powers of deduction.

He knew the letter was from me. He recognised my handwriting even though I had written with my left hand, in green ink, in curly wurly writing. He was not overjoyed to receive the letter, he was suspicious. That suspicion led to investigation and the investigation led to my house of magical cards crumbling before my very eyes.

In his eyes I had deceived him. All his life I had lied to him. About everything. Santa, The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny ( although, in my defence I don't remember introducing the Easter Bunny - even for me that seemed a step too far towards the ridiculous!!)

In his words "My whole life has been a sham." ... Difficult to take from an 11 year old. And strangely over-dramatic, I am tempted to say ...

So. Would I do the same again? My youngest son continued to believe until this year and the reality of the whole Father Christmas situation seemed to dawn on him without too much trauma. It was more a "Well, it was good while it lasted, Mum and do I still get presents even if there isn't really an old bloke who climbs down the chimney?" kind of scenario.

So ... two boys, two very different reactions. I think I would do it all again.After all, I think its part of my job as a mum to create a world of imagination and wonder for my children. I remember how I felt at Christmas and I wanted my boys to feel that same joy and excitement. But is it right to lie? I spend my whole time putting emphasis on how absolutely essential it is to be honest. Lies will always catch you out. And yet I lied through my teeth to them for the first 11 years of their lives when it came to such things.

I suppose its one of those things you can only decide for yourself when the time arrives. As a parent you just try your best to do the right thing.

11 comments:

Razmataz said...

I don't think it's lying. As parents we encourage our kids (and ourselves) to play make believe. Santa, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and just wonderful games of make believe we play with our kids. We also pretend with Babies, cooking, cars, soldiers etc and they gradually stop the make believe. Maybe your son just felt a bit silly because all of a sudden he realized it was you and never even doubted it. I find with teens that when they feel embarrased they take it out on the parents.

Pauline said...

No, no, I don't see it as lies. It's about imagination and make believe, the "let's pretend" that all children in their first decade just love. It's part of their growth and wouldn't be as rich without Santas, Easter Bunnies and tooth fairies. I believe these things lead to dreams and who wouldn't want their child to have dreams of what could be or what they could aspire to be? I realize others think differently and that's fine by me. But that's how I see it, anyway! :)

sarah at secret housewife said...

I'm glad you both think that way. I think that the belief in magic and the joy of imagination are what make childhood so special There's enough time when you're an adult to be dead serious about everything.I would do the same if I had the time over again. x

Chloe Brewer said...

I don't think it's lying at all! I think believing in Santa, the easter bunny etc is all like a right of passage when you are a child. It's about allowing your child to believe the world isn't all bad, but filled with magic and enxcitement and I think I will cling on to that (on behalf of my son) for as long as possible! Just to go one step further though-when I was younger my parents got one of their friends to climb on top of our roof dressed as santa and took a photo of him up there. Well put it this way I instantly decided I wouldn't ask if santa was real ever again-he clearly was! Sadly for me the Easyer afterwards I got told by a child at school he wasn't real-sob! Tears for a minute but oh well, good while it lasted hey?!xx

Urban Cynic said...

I would have gone for "They're real in the world of imagination".

Glad I've never had to approach that minefield though. I can't actually remember when I found out about the whole lie. One minute I was leaving carrots out & getting (real) letters from Santa, the next minute it was all over. I think I always suspected actually... we had a gas fire.

sarah at secret housewife said...

You do make me laugh Urban Cynic!! Gas fire!! It seems you are all on the same wave length as me, which is cool!
Chloe, your experience sounds similar to mine. I was sure I heard sleigh bells and reindeer hooves on my roof when I was about 10.And I think that children who are told the truth need to respect others who still believe instead of breaking their hearts with unkind 'truth telling'!!
Thanks for your comments!!
Sarah
x

Inkling said...

This Christmas I pulled out the book of letter from Father Christmas that Tolkien wrote to his kiddos. As I read them to my three year old and we looked at all the artwork drawn on the reprinted letters by Father Christmas and the Polar Bear he had helping him, I wondered how Tolkien's kids processed all of that. While I don't have any answers, I do love the magic of it all. And I have to admit that though my parents never did any of that and stuck to the historical story while also letting us pretend about Santa, there is a silly, childlike part of me that believes that there really might have been a miracle on 34th street. =)

Your firstborn's passionate declaration of his life being a sham made me smile a bit. He sounds like he has a bit of fire and drama in his heart.

Gina said...

Oh you brought back so many memories there Sarah. My boys are 7 years apart. When the older one stopped "believing" he entered into the "sham" with gusto, making Christmas extra special for lots more years. He now does it wonderfully for his own son. As a bonus he continued to receive presents from Father Christmas for several more years.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

My daughter stopped believing in Santa last Christmas and I did feel feel guilty about lying. But we can't think of it as lying because what we're really doing is expanding their imagination, which is surely a good thing. Let children be children for as long as is possible. They grow up far too fast.

CJ x

Caz said...

Is it really a lie if everyone is telling it? My middle daughter was most put out and the lawyer in her insisted that yes, I had indeed lied. My son was forever terrified of the (giant) Easter Bunny the night I re-enacted what the Easter Bunny would do while he was asleep - I came close to his ear and sniffed around his face,while making tut-tutting sounds!!!! I will admit, that was probably too far!

Here come the girls said...

I think he's done well to keep believing until age eleven. So wonderful to keep the magic going for that long. I'm sure when he's older he'll look back and be grateful for this beautiful lie and the magic you've given him. I can understand why he's upset but I guess it's a part of growing up. It makes me feel very sad though.

If you get chance link up to my Tuesday tea and sympathy linky:
http://1978rebecca.blogspot.com/2012/01/morning-all.html