Sunday, December 21, 2008

To Santa or not to Santa?

Carl Honore raises the Santa Claus question in an opinion piece in today's Washington Post. You know, will it scar your children for life if you lie/don't lie to them about Santa?

Man, we parents really are damned if we do, damned if we don't these days. I hope that whatever William's learned about Santa, inadvertently or not, isn't going to have serious repercussions on his future success/development/happiness/ability to resist becoming an ax murderer.

I loved this paragraph in Honore's article:

"Of course parenting is crucial, but the bottom line is that not every single thing we do as parents leaves an indelible mark, for good or ill, on our children. Kids are more resilient than that. They can handle disappointment, boredom and feeling bad from time to time -- in fact, these things can make them stronger."

This is very reassuring. It takes a little of the pressure off to be the very best possible parent, because that is pretty much impossible to do but still tempting. I want to be a great parent, but there are times when I really just do not want to play another round of Candy Land or read "Madeline and the Bad Hat" for the four millionth time. Sometimes I don't want to try to make everything a potential moment for learning. Sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I yell (but I do apologize afterward). Sometimes I just want to use the restroom by myself--and sometimes I get cross when I don't get my wish. I sincerely want to do the best job of parenting that I possibly can, but hello, I do have my limits. Doesn't everyone?

So my son knows about Santa. Well, that is, William believes in Santa. He believes there is a big round man named Santa who says "Ho Ho Ho" and delivers presents out of his turbo-charged sled. But he's not consumed by the whole Santa myth, at least not yet. In a few years, when he uncovers the vaunted Truth About Santa, he'll get over it. He will. Doesn't every kid, eventually? I'm not worried about this in the least, frankly. I can think of far, far more important things for me to worry about him learning and understanding. So I'll expend my parental-guilt energy worrying about how we deal with those matters instead.

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