The day the S-bomb got dropped on the kindergarten field trip

Don't ruin Santa for everyone elseLast week I chaperoned my kindergartener’s field trip. It was crazy adorable – and generally pretty crazy – as you might expect.

I often forget how young kindergarteners are, because lately Grace seems so old to me. She’s reading beginner books, tying her own shoes, picking out her own clothes. So independent. So big.

But when you see 17 five and six year old kids all together? They’re babies. So innocent. So young.

They want to hold the teacher’s hand and be the line leader. They cry when they don’t get to sit in the last seat of the bus like they wanted to. They eat their snacks loudly and with open-mouth-chewing gusto.

They are full of sweet, goofy innocence.

That is, until one says something that makes you so mad, you want to tackle her and shut her up.

We’re all sitting on the floor, listening to a story that the museum lady is reading. The topic of the holidays comes up, and one kid calls out how excited he is to see Santa this year.

And that’s when it happens.

One little girl enthusiastically bellows, “But there’s no such thing as Santa! He’s NOT REAL.”


The phrase hung in the air for a few agonizing seconds. My insides went quivery as I sucked in my breath. I looked at Grace. Would she look at me for confirmation? Would she start crying? What would she do?

The kids all looked at the girl in disbelief. I saw the kids’ teacher about to say something, but before any of us adults could react, another little voice piped up loud and clear: “YES. HE. IS!!!”

And then more voices.

“Of course he’s real!”

“I see him every year, he’s totally real!”

“He brings me presents every Christmas!”

The voices all started chorusing that Santa was indeed real while the kids looked the girl as if she announced she was leaving the field trip to hop on her rainbow unicorn and fly to Disney World. I saw Grace roll her eyes at the silliness of the little girl’s claim. The museum lady picked right back up with the book. And that was that.

The kids moved on and everything was fine (well, maybe until later when some parents got some uncomfortable questions). But unlike the kids, I sat there stewing for a few minutes.

I mean, I get it. Maybe that little girl doesn’t celebrate Christmas and Santa. But why, WHY didn’t her parents tell her to keep her thoughts on Santa to herself no matter what? If I didn’t celebrate Christmas and/or Santa, you’d better believe I’d tell my kids that under no circumstances were they to tell Santa-loving kids what they believed wasn’t true. People believe lots of different things. Why is it anyone’s place to tell them what they believe isn’t true?

My older daughter’s close friend is Jewish, and that little girl simply says her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas so she doesn’t get gifts from Santa – she gets them from her family and friends. Simple as that.

Or…maybe the girl’s parents did tell her to not tell people their beliefs weren’t true, but she couldn’t resist letting everyone in on what she thought was juicy information. Kids will do stuff like that, as we all know.

Either way, I’m hoping no harm was done by that little girl’s brazen announcement to her classmates. Grace hasn’t brought it up. And I hope she doesn’t. Not yet.

The one good thing that has come out of this? Hubs and I have talked about how we will handle the inevitable questions someday. Our answer: We believe in the spirit of Santa. And only kids who believe in the spirit of Santa get gifts from Santa! When the girls are older, our explanation might be more like this great letter.

All in all, it seems no harm was done in the end. But parents, please: If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, or celebrates Christmas but not Santa, please, I beg you. Please teach your kids to be sensitive to other kids’ beliefs. Understand that Santa is indeed real to those who celebrate this aspect of Christmas, no matter what age we are. Please let the fun live on for everyone who loves Santa.

I’d really love to keep the magic going – and I know I’m not alone.

PS: If you want more thoughts on Christmas beliefs, check out this post on why I get really annoyed when Christians screech “put the Christ back in Christmas!” And if you’re not feeling super holiday-ish right now, read my tips on managing depression, anxiety, and stress during the holidays.

PPS: And if you want some holiday funny, here’s how NOT to get a great holiday card photo of your kids, and my (fictional) humble brag Christmas card letter I wrote for Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Plus you can read about why my Elf on the Shelf is defective. And naughty. Happy holidays!

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19 Replies to “The day the S-bomb got dropped on the kindergarten field trip”

  1. I thought the s-bomb was gonna be sh@%, which would have been equally as interesting. Someone needs to show that little girl the Elf movie. I’m surprised someone so young said that. 5 is pretty little. I remember around third grade the Santa rumors started but kindergarten is young.

  2. I so clearly remember the day I asked my mom for the real truth and she told me. She then added that each child should find out when they are ready and asked me to keep it quiet and not tell my sisters or any other kid. I never did, for me it was the first test of adulthood. And it was sad and exciting at the same time.

  3. Was totally waiting for the S-bomb to be s**t. Sometimes, when kids that young say Santa isn’t real, it’s WORSE than if they actually dropped the s**t bomb.

  4. A friend of my then-7yo son pulled this stint last year, and I just stood there in horror. As in “no, no, there’s NO Santa. See, your parents go the store while you’re at school and SAY those presents are from Santa, but really, it’s from your mom and dad.” And I wanted to strangle that kid. Luckily, my son brushed him off and vehemently denied this kid’s no-Santa claim, but later he asked me about. So I told him that since his friend didn’t believe in Santa, I guess SOMEONE had to buy him presents, but in our house, if you believe in Santa, then he comes. That seemed to buy me some time, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of a year or two where he figures things out. You bet your butt I’ll make sure he knows not to wreck things for his younger sister!

  5. Wow yeah, that stinks. That little kid probably knew they were sharing some shocking information. Sounds like most of them brushed it off though, so that’s good. Fortunately, my kids are 12 and they know how it works, but they would never dare tell little kids that. They remember how much they loved believing themselves.

    By the way, I find your blog a little hard to read. I think it’s the font, it just seems kind of light. I can read it, but it is a bit difficult.

    Love this post!

  6. It’s so hard to protect our babies, isn’t it? The urge to share what you know is so strong in kids, that other kid probably couldn’t help herself. But I understand your frustration. I LOVE how the kids handled it. I love that none of the parents even had to intervene!

  7. I remember my daughter in first or second grade, as we were driving home form school, telling me that someone at school said that Santa wasn't real. Then she said (I'm paraphrasing) that she couldn't imagine any parent being so "cruel" as to lie about such an important thing. If Santa wasn't real, your parents would never say he was, right mommy? I was stunned! When we got home we discussed belief and hope and how things become "real" in spirit of love and hope. We also talked about how, when beliefs change, it doesn't become a "lie" but just a different way of looking at things.

  8. You wanted to smack a child for sharing the truth with other children? And you think it's great that the kids all ganged up on the kid rolling their eyes at how crazy she is? That does not sound very healthy.

  9. Honestly…my kid thinks Santa is real, but I wouldn’t be upset at all if another child told her the truth…because it is the truth. Yes, there is magic in the whole Santa thing and watching children’s eyes light up but there is magic in being realistic and knowing that at some point another kid most likely will tell yours that Santa isn’t real, and every parent that does ‘The Santa thing.” needs to be prepared for that and not vilify a 5 year old….It is my opinion parents should be able to raise their kids as they see fit, but expecting other parents to join in on our parenting style is unfair.

    1. I agree. We don’t really do Santa, although we visit mall
      Santas and watch movies and generally have fun with it. But when my kids ask I just explain that it’s a fun thing to pretend about. Like superheroes and fairy tales. How many kids think Spider-Man or Cinderella are real? Their imaginations are so vivid at this age. But we decided we didn’t want to outright tell our kids that Santa was real. Some of them decided I was clearly mistaken and that Santa WAS real which I was fine with. 🙂 But my point is that although I do tell my kids not to spoil the fun of their classmates I know it’s possible my kindergartener will “spill the beans” for someone else. But I’m not going to change our families Santa policy just to prevent that. Also the kindergartener in question could have just as easily been told by a bigger sibling or friend. It’s a part of life.

    2. Thank you. I told my daughter that Santa is a fun game lots of people like to play, because I had a hard time when I found out santa wasn’t real, especially after time and time again I asked my mom and she always said he was. I didn’t want my daughter to feel betrayed like I did. I have told her to be very careful not to ruin the game for other kids, but I am horrified at someone wanting to hurt my child because she told them santa isn’t real. I have read posts where parents have said horrible things to young children and other parents applauded them. Thank you for not being one of those people.

  10. I think it might be a relief when Santa finally gets outed at our house. The amount of lying I have to do during the holidays is out of control. We do Hanukkah and Christmas, and I have a stepdaughter that is sometimes here for Christmas Eve and sometimes for Christmas day, I can hardly keep all the b.s. I have to spew straight lol.

  11. I mostly agree with Lyla and Jenny above. Where’s the flip side? We don’t celebrate Santa and while I don’t wish to ruin the fun for other children, and go above and beyond not to, I’m more worried about how the adults are going to be if my kids let it out. Most seem take the one sided attitude you display above. You have every right to celebrate Santa just like my family has the right not to. Why is it that you are exempt from preparing your kids that people believe different things and that not everyone believes in Santa? That’s just as much your job as it is mine to explain many kids do and not to ruin it.

  12. Hello, all! So, I’m gonna be the hated mom here.. We, my husband and I, decided NOT to celebrate Santa with our two children (ages 2 and 3). We live in an urban area, multi-denominational for sure! Lots of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindi, Buddhists, etc. Despite the fact we ARE very religious the Christan faith, we are not sending our children an all christian preschool since we view diversity as an asset. However, the MAIN reason we do not celebrate Santa is simply because it’s a lie and such a lie goes against our personal values. Yup, my 3 year olds asks about Santa and I tell her we don’t celebrate Santa and try to teach her to simply tell others the same, “we don’t celebrate Santa”. I want her to be respectful of others beliefs but also learn this can be balanced with assertiveness when comes to her own. Agree to disagree. But when she asked me WHY we don’t celebrate Santa, I told her he isn’t real. Being the smarty pants she is, she asked me outright if it was a lie. Hmmm.. yup. I cringe for the day she spills the beans and tells another child , so be it, can’t control everything and both the telling and receiving end of the truth is all part of the learning curve. Besides, I will never expect a child to protect an adult in his/her lies, no matter how “magical” they seem to whomever. Not a lesson I want to teach my children. I also figure if parents want to keep the truth past kindergarten, put your kids in an all Christan school. If this offends, I guess we’re gonna have to agree to disagree.

  13. It’s not kindergarteners responsibility to be an accomplice in the elaborate lies you want to teach your child. And to take satisfaction in the other kids shooting her down when she was right is pretty sad – she’s a little 5 year old girl, and apparently an intelligent one. You are doing a serious disservice to your child’s imagination and critical thinking skills by teaching her Santa Claus is anything but pretend. And shielding her from anyone ever disagreeing with her beliefs or teaching her she shouldn’t question or counter someone else’s views is narrow-minded and dangerous to her intellect and poor parenting.

  14. Adults who lie to children are ego-injured when a child who doesn’t buy it exposes them. That’s all it is. Don’t tell CHILDREN to keep the TRUTH to themselves. Haha. You don’t get to let all the other kids saturate the atmosphere with it and tell non-believer kids to clam up. Santa kids should “keep it to themselves”.

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