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You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Not Cry


I do a ridiculous amount of complaining about Ben’s father, some (most) of it justified, and some of it not. I had a particularly good bitch-session with Dave this past weekend, when Nat had finally realized that we’d added my last name to the end of Ben’s last name. The reasons ran from making sure that Ben got his mail in a timely manner to my dislike of being called Mrs. (Nat’s last name). I mean, if I’d wanted this to be my last name, I’d have married Nat, rather than opt to be a single mother.

He was peeved at me, for sure, but I didn’t care much one way or another. I mean, just the other week, when I got a bill from the dentist that Nat was supposed to pay, and I approached him, talons on the ready, he informed me that it WAS my job to make sure these sorts of things get done.

It appears that he wants the glory of being called “Dad” without the work involved. School functions, homework, vaccinations, birthday parties: those are all “my realm,” not his. He’s nothing more than a glorified babysitter with a meaningless title.

(an aside: when I got pregnant with Alex, I sat down with Ben and explained that although Ben calls my husband “The Daver,” the new baby would call him “Daddy.” Ben then decided to call Dave, “Daddy Dave” as a compromise. That lasted until Nat found out and informed Ben that Dave was NOT his father, HE was, and that he should not call Dave anything other than Dave. Ben, being unable to think to rebel against this, hasn’t thought to call Dave anything other than his name since. I have a feeling that if Nat could have pissed on Ben to mark his territory, he would have.)

While I am a decidedly Holiday Person, Nat is not. I spent many pregnant months making Ben a stocking, I’ve always carefully selected stocking stuffers and gifts for him, I’ve insisted that we get a tree and have Ben help decorate it, I am painstakingly planning (and hosting) Christmas Eve for our families, this is what I do around the holidays.

Nat and his family (who I honestly adore. I think half of the reason I stayed with Nat as long as I did was because I love his parents. They’re physicists, who are my favorite sorts of people in the world, and they’re hilarious) are not from this country, and although they do celebrate Christmas, he and his siblings never were allowed to believe in Santa Claus. His mother (Ben’s grandmother) was too distraught when she learned that Santa wasn’t real, so she decided not to tell her children about it.

While I have absolutely no problem with this: I mean, it DOES feel a little odd to have to make up elaborate answers to these questions about where Santa lives, what his reindeer eat, what he does in his off time, I can’t get behind not doing it for my own children.

I guess I feel like childhood is a fleeting time of innocence and wonder, and I would hate to have to introduce my children to what the world can be like any earlier than I have to (no, I don’t home school them. Nor would I. You can start breathing again.). Believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy is something you can never go back and decide to do again once you know the truth.

So when I told Nat that I was taking Ben tomorrow to Breakfast with Santa, he expressed that he didn’t think Ben should “believe in that crap.” I had been hearing this from him on and off for several years now, so it didn’t take me by surprise. But it’s just another reminder to me of the vast divide between Us and Him. Dave may not be pissing his pants with excitement over this (or anything. He’s not that kind of guy. Lucky for him, Ben and I are exuberant enough to make up for it), but he’s certainly looking forward to it, just as we all are.

I know full well that someday Ben will come home from a night with his father and tell me that Santa Claus isn’t real, and I suppose that my only real hope is that he won’t tell his brother about it.

How did you feel when you found out Santa wasn’t real? Were you crushed? Or did you already kind of know and therefore remain unsurprised (as a child, this was where I fell)? Do you think it’s a bad thing to allow kids to believe in these fictitious beings?

9 Comments to

“You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Not Cry”

  1. On December 14th, 2007 at 12:54 pm Andria Says:

    I always said I wouldn’t do Santa with my kids. THat was before the kids were here. Jake’s second Christmas, seeing him all excited over Santa, how could he not be a part of that? He goes to Christian school and about half of the parents don’t do Santa, they make Christmas a Jesus birthday party and such and some of the kids have mentioned this to my son. With the toy drives (why do poor kids need a toy drive when Santa brings it all)and the school kids and all, I am pretty sure he’s figured it all out but hasn’t said anything. I am already sad for him. I find myself shielding him from everything so he can enjoy one more holiday before the real truth comes out.

    I hope your ex keeps his trap shut and realizes how sad that will be for your son.

  2. On December 14th, 2007 at 1:08 pm Kim Says:

    I think Nat is a twit.

    that is all I have to say at this time.

    hugs and whatnot…


  3. On December 14th, 2007 at 1:27 pm Jenn Says:

    I don’t actually remember finding out that Santa wasn’t real, it was just a gradual realization I suppose. So it couldn’t have been that traumatic! Personally, I loved the mystery of Santa and I like to perpetuate that feeling with my kids now.
    Do you think Nat would tell Ben behind your back that Santa isn’t real? That would be pretty mean.

  4. On December 14th, 2007 at 2:29 pm Gail Says:

    See, I had an EVIL kindergarten teacher, who felt the need to disabuse all of us of the notion of Santa being real. Bitch. As a result, I am seriously into the Santa thing. I will perpetuate the myth until my children move out. And maybe even then.

    Barbara, on the other hand DOES NOT TELL LIES. Not even little white ones. So she had no intention of having Santa in our children’s lives. So we made a deal. I traded earrings for Santa.

    I had always figured if we had a daughter, I’d want to get her ears pierced really young. Barbara is so totally opposed to that, it’s hard to express. So I traded that. No earrings, on the condition that she FULLY participates in the Santa thing. Ha ha on her when we had boys!

    In our house, Santa brings only one gift. Family and friends give the others. That way, it’s still easy to instill the sense of charity. Sure, Santa will bring the little poor boy a toy. But wouldn’t it be nice if he got more than one toy? His family can’t afford to buy him anything, but we can!

    I love me some Santa. Gabriel even got to talk to Santa on the phone the other day (my friend Dan). He enjoyed it so much, that he told all his little preschooler friends about it. Now they are all bugging me for the number…

  5. On December 14th, 2007 at 1:44 pm becky Says:

    I feel you, Andria. I want to shield my kids from all that stuff in the world. It breaks my heart when I can’t.

    Nat IS a twit, Kim. That’s just how he rolls. He’s the type of person, who, upon seeing some volunteer working the bells for the Salvation Army (the people I ALWAYS give to), would launch into a diatribe about how evil the coorporation is, because they pay their exec’s a bunch of money that should be going to the charity. I mean, maybe that’s true, but some teenaged kid isn’t going to know OR care about that.

    And Jenn, that’s how it worked with me, too. I just realized gradually and wasn’t disturbed or anything (well, any more than usual).

  6. On December 14th, 2007 at 4:22 pm Leslee Says:

    I don’t remember figuring out there was no Santa. hell, as far as I’m concerned, HE IS REAL!

    My Alex still believes, I think, but my nephew doesn’t seem to. I keep him on Tuesday nights for my sister and this past Tuesday, I think I caught trying to tell Alex that there’s no Santa. I gave him the death glare that burned with the fire of a thousand suns and he shut the hell up.

    I don’t want him to figure out there’s no Santa. Not yet. He’s still young enough to believe in my eyes. Maybe he’s not and I’m just filed with wishful thinking. Hell, I have days where I don’t want to let him out the door, so I’m probably just trying to keep him my little baby.

  7. On December 15th, 2007 at 1:07 am Juli Says:

    *grumble* The whole “we don’t believe in lying to children so we don’t perpetuate Santa” is a hot button for me. We lie to kids ALL THE TIME. And any grown-up who tells a child before he or she is ready to disbelieve, needs to have a meeting with me and my baseball bat, because if there’s one thing in this world that I think is actually, genuinely evil, it is disappointing a kid.

    I realized by the time I was six or seven that Santa and Mom had remarkably similar handwriting – but I was two when I pointed out to Santa himself that my Grandpa had a mole on HIS right hand, too, JUST LIKE SANTA. Apparently I was a very observant kid. Anyhow, by the time I figured it out for sure, Mom inveigled me into the game for my younger sibling’s sake.

    My husband still believes in Santa. After all, he wakes up Christmas morning and the house is clean and decorated, gifts are purchased, wrapped and under the tree, stockings are stuffed and dinner’s in the oven, and HE didn’t do any of it, so it musta been Santa, right?

  8. On July 13th, 2010 at 7:09 pm Michael Says:

    Why is lying to children OK? How is Santa Claus something so cherished that we’ll lie about it?

    I’m not saying it’s necessary to add a disclaimer to everything indicating fictional status. On the other hand, telling a child that it is completely and absolutely true when it isn’t, isn’t really kosher. Telling an entertaining story, and playing a little bit of pretend and/or dress-up is one thing, but systematically lying to your child to ensure their belief is quite another.

  9. On January 23rd, 2011 at 10:23 pm Kat Says:

    I felt hurt that I was lied to about something I believed so fervently in. I really would not want to give my son the same hurt…no matter what. The “magic” of Santa to me anyway does not compare to the hurt given when it is realized it’s all a lie.

    I’m just weird I guess.

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