Now She Knows

And finally, I told her, “So that’s the truth; about all of them. Now you know.”

After Christmas last year I had decided, for my own reasons, my 9 year old needed to know the truth about Santa Claus.  Maybe as misguided as my reasoning was, I thought it was time she learned the truth about Santa and his brethren of mythological icons.

In my mind, the conversation would be easy to begin and subsequently get through (As easy as I thought Physical Geology 101 as a senior in college was going to be. Needless to say I was wrong…about both).  I had found myself hesitating and blaming it on patience for the right moment to tell Hannah.  I thought better of telling her before bed, holding a sign at the school bus stop was out, blurting it out after she passed the mashed potatoes at dinner didn’t seem like the best time either.

So I waited.  As I waited, I planned my strategy out further.  I was like the kid playing Dungeons and Dragons, who always took longer than he needed to figure out what to do with his Mana points.  Each time I took a step towards telling her, I backed up and thought about it a little more.  So I rehearsed my speech.  Tweaked it, edited it for time and for bad jokes, and said it out loud multiple times.  One version had me wearing a leather trench coat and handing her a red pill and a blue pill. Another version I was going to set up a row of cups and chalices and telling her to choose one. And yet another version, I had her watching the Matrix and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade so she could pick up on my references.

Maybe it was me, but I started to rethink this position of her needing to know.  Maybe I was being selfish as I slammed the door shut on a very big piece of her childhood?  Who was I to tear down the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus from Idols to Taylor Hicks?  Did Hannah really need to know?

So I pushed it out further and further.  I resigned myself to be happy knowing by the time she got to junior high she wouldn’t believe anymore (it worked for potty training and elementary school so I was willing to give it shot).  After a while, I understood it was me. My hesitation for the past 3 months came down to one thing, I wanted her to stay my baby…and I’m an idiot for wanting to tell her (ok, two reasons).  I wanted her to be that little girl whose eyes told me she believed in Easter Bunnies, Tooth Fairies, Santa Clauses, and the magic her Dad can wield.

It was about me overcompensating because I was scared to lose another piece of my daughter’s childhood. A childhood she is rapidly growing out of.  So I thought I would tackle it head on, like a man. Ignore my feelings and grab it by the reigns and control the situation (or in other words, act like an imbecile).

My manly control of the situation came to a crashing halt this past Saturday afternoon while I was at work (big surprise) with one question from an inquisitive 9 year old.

“Mommy.  There really isn’t an Easter Bunny is there?”

“No.” My wife used Hannah’s question to let her behind the curtain.

She explained to Hannah the intricacies of our reasoning to keep all of this from her.  It didn’t end with the Easter Bunny either.  Hurtling to the ground came the Tooth Fairy (although to be fair, according to Hannah, “I knew that Mommy because Daddy told me about her in his joking voice, not his serious voice”) and toppling lastly and loudest, Santa Claus.  All toppled unceremoniously and without any sort of eulogy befitting their memory.  Just the simple truth which allowed for another chapter in my daughter’s childhood to close. A chapter that held a good deal of significance for her but I suspect not quite as much as it did for me and her mom.

As my wife relayed the accounts of the afternoon to me, she told me Hannah took it well.  There was a brief moment of sadness and teary eyes but nothing that lasted or affected her past the moment.

I was at work when all of this happened so when I got home I pulled her to the side so her younger sister couldn’t hear (We’re still all about lying to her). I reassured her, told her the same reasons her mom told her for doing what we did, told her I loved her, and gave her a hug. And finally, I told her, “So that’s the truth; about all of them. Now you know.”  As I said it, I got a little sad because I saw her grow up in front of my eyes.

And her response?

“Yup. Can I go play now?” It obviously had affected my daughter more than I thought…or maybe that was just me?

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10 responses to “Now She Knows

  1. Andrea Thompson

    I dread the day I have this conversation w/my babies. My 6yo, who is already questioning all the big myths, is on the verge of realization. He’s too smart for his own good. I remember the day I figured out Santa wasnt’ real. I always thought it bothered my mom more than it did me. Now as a mommy, I know it bothered her more than it did me.
    Great post, Jimmy. I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t make me cry. 🙂

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    • I do what I can Andrea 🙂
      I’m glad Hannah asked instead of me telling her. I think it let her figure it out on her own and then use my wife and I to confirm her suspicions. I think that’s why it wasn’t such a big deal to her.

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  2. Ack – what were the reasons you gave her?!?! I need to know! Can your wife transcribe a script or something for me?!? The end is nigh in our house, too…. #sniff

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    • Ha! You’ll have to ask her but it went something like this: …because its tradition and the spirit of Christmas that is important.
      Good luck. It is sad but they take it way better than we do.

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  3. Sad I can’t remember how my 16 yr. old found out. My 13 yr old was asking about what was real and what was fake on TV one night when she was 9 and it was brought up that way. She took it well. Our 9 yr old figured it out himself. “If Santa builds the toys why do we return the duplicates to Walmart and why does Walmart carry toys?” Tried the elves work all year long and sell their inventory to stores line but he is too smart for his own good on some things. Santa hires helpers to sit at the malls and they report back to him what the kids want. Didn’t buy that either. And He couldn’t buy that santa knows if he is good or bad if mom and dad sometimes can’t figure out who did something in the house. LOL I wanted to let him know a bit longer since he was my last and I think he took it better than I did. They grow up way too fast. Thanks for sharing with us. I enjoy reading your blog.

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    • Hannah had started to question it too, even before Saturday. She before last Christmas and on Saturday realized how Santa probably couldn’t get to everyone’s house in one night.

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  4. This is awesome. Way to overthink it, Dad! Just kidding. I’m sure I will do the same when the time comes. And that my kids’ reaction will be similar. My post today is about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too. Great minds…

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  5. ohhh Sad! A true sign of growing up! Glad she took it well too. Great Job!

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