*warning: not a post for kiddies to read.
This week, Hot Husband and I were responsible for inadvertently breaking the Boy Child’s heart.
After Hot Husband accidentally referred to a Christmas present from Santa as having been given by us, the Boy Child received the terrible truth, in all its horrific glory.
“Aha!!” he declared, somewhat triumphantly. “That present was from Santa, not you! If you said it was from you, then YOU must be Santa! I knew it!”
I think, despite his crowing tone, that he was hoping that we’d reassure him otherwise; that of course Santa was real, and that daddy was just being silly.
But as we looked at each other, and he read our faces, he gathered the truth before we had a chance to speak.
“Oh. So, he’s not real? It really WAS you?”
And his eyes filled with tears, and I could see realisation after realisation hit him like metaphorical bullets to the heart.
“What about the cookies?”
“Yeah, that was us mate.”
“And the footprints?”
“Us too, buddy.”
“Well where are my letters?”
“In mum’s special box, sweetheart. I’ve kept them all.”
And he paused, as the reality sunk in, and took a couple of deep breaths, as we explained how wonderful it has been creating such magic for him, and how he could now be involved in creating that magic for the little ones.
“I suppose I was lucky to have thought he was real for eleven years.”
And then, another thought struck him.
“Wait…What about the tooth fairy? She only came last night. Or…..are you HER too? And the Easter Bunny…are you ALL of them?? Really?? Oh God.”
And then, he wept.
And my heart broke, along with his, as I rocked him, and told him how sorry I was that he felt so disappointed by this revelation.
I suppose, I had thought by eleven years old, someone at school might have dropped the bomb.
I thought maybe he had been stringing us along with his belief.
I thought maybe he would have started to question how all of that magic was possible.
He simply believed.
I could take pride in the fact that we must have been awfully convincing storytellers for the stories to stick for so long.
But truth be told, I feel so damn guilty about the whole thing.
We struggled with the idea of introducing Santa as a character when he was really little, for this exact reason. I never wanted to betray his trust, or see that look of hurt realisation on his face. Not ever.
But it’s done and dusted, and in the days that have followed, I’ve got to say, he’s recovered better than I have. He’s started giving me a sneaky wink whenever the Girl Child mentions the Easter Bunny. And he’s next level excited about choosing his own Christmas presents (although he’s insisting that we still write the tags from Santa, in case the little ones are around).
It’s a rite of passage that was inevitably a bit painful, yet he’s come out on the other side oddly mature.
The combination of guilt, grief, gratitude and pride that fills my chest when I think about it, is one that I can’t adequately describe.
This parenting gig, well, it’s quite the rollercoaster.
See ya later, Santa. Ciao, Tooth Fairy. Bye for now, Easter Bunny. You’re leaving in your wake a Boy Child who is transitioning into a young man, more quickly than I can keep up with. And as much as it makes my heart burst, there’s no denying the magic in that.