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!