Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Claus: the controversy

A recent essay in the WaPo discusses the Santa controversy--apparently some parents hold that santa belief is akin to child abuse. Please! I always believed in Santa and I turned out OK (well, IMHO. You may have your own view). Actually, I believed in all kinds of magic, including the idea that I could communicate telepathically with animals and inanimate but personified objects (ie, cars), until I was at least 12. Egbert is almost eleven and still believes in Santa, but his faith is wavering. He's been questioning. He even contemplated this year setting up an elaborate security system with video cameras to catch Santa in the act. Luckily, we don't have a video camera or he'd probably have set it up, complete with laser tripwire (he does have one of those). Surprisingly, he didn't ask if he could use the video on my macbook. Maybe it's better in this situation to bemoan the things you know you can't have? Maybe he isn't really ready for the answer? However, he has been spending a lot of energy on it: recent discussion sessions have been held on the following topics: "do you think Santa is a real person or more like a burst of energy?"; "who is Santa, anyway?" and "Where does Santa live? I mean, you'd think Arctic explorers would have found his workshop by now."

A few years ago Egbert suddenly announced that the tooth fairy wasn't real: "the tooth fairy is YOU, Mommy." I responded with incredulity: "what? you think I fly through your window at night just to put some money under your pillow? I don't even have a ladder that high!" He replied that, of course, I didn't need to do that--I could just walk across the hall. But I didn't answer that and he didn't push it. He also recently announced that he no longer believes in "mommy magic"--and he tried testing me on my mind-reading abilities (okay, they're not as impressive as they were a few years ago). As it happened, a friend called me in the middle of this test to say she couldn't meet me as we'd planned as she was sick. I told her to go to bed and drink some tea, and she said she was drinking some at that very moment. "See? I knew that she should drink some tea, and she was drinking it!" He looked at me pityingly: "That's not mommy magic. That's great-minds-think-alike." (On another occasion, he scornfully derided my suggestion that I knew something through mommy magic by saying it wasn't that, but "emotional intelligence," that gave me the insight.)

As far as the question of whether Santa is an actual person or a burst of energy, I responded that I thought both. "You mean, he's a burst of energy that turns into a person when he comes down the chimney?" Yeah. Something like that.

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