My oldest daughter no longer believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.
You might ask why we introduced the concepts at all, and that’s a fair question. Mostly because I grew up with them and I like to think that the only time in life that fantasy and magic is allowed in such a big way is in childhood. Just by the very nature of growing up and life experience, the magic fades from such childhood experiences. I kind of knew for the last year or so that she was going along with it for my younger daughter’s sake, and she admitted as much. She wasn’t disappointed at all, and it didn’t make her the pariah for being the one in her school to burst the bubble of all the other kids.
I know I’m bowing to societal norms, but I also think that it can serve as a jumping off point for future discussions of what people believe and why they believe. And also to look at something and try to see what is really the truth. Just because I don’t believe in god (and my husband is a doubter as well, but more hedging his bets), doesn’t mean I want to do away with Christmas. There is something about the lights and the music that time of year, that if done right can be downright magical and full of wonder.
When my daughter informed me (out of earshot of her sister) that she knows that Santa isn’t real, I tossed in god when asking about the tooth fairy and whether she believes they are real. Tooth fairy – no. God? She said “I don’t know”. And that was good enough for me at the time. She was reading and I didn’t want to distract her, but I did want to get the topic out there, even a little bit, so if or when a bigger discussion about it comes up, I can encourage her to try to figure it out for herself. I’m sure that the question will come up eventually, since a good number of her friends go to church (or temple), but a surprising number don’t attend church at all on a regular basis.
Which reminds me that a while ago, my mom found my brother’s old Dungeons & Dragons starter kit and my oldest daughter glommed onto it. She has a friend that she plays with and another girl played with them for a little while until she mentioned it to her uncle, who informed her that it has demons in it. This girl was also homeschooled for a while and now goes to a private school. This is in a relatively affluent neighborhood with top-notch schools.
My daughter explained to her that there are no demons, just dragons and adventure, but the damage was done. Now my daughter doesn’t play because they need at least one more person to play and the other girls at her school are so not interested. Who knew that 5th grade girls were so….girly. She will probably have to find a boy to round out their group.
I am so proud that she finds D&D interesting and didn’t just dismiss it as a “boy thing”. Unfortunately, her tendency to do that does not make her social life any easier. She has seemed to get a reputation among the more girly of the girls as being a bit of an odd duck. She dresses more tomboyish and other than her pierced ears, isn’t very girly at all. Which is just fine with me. Along with a lack of religious indoctrination, I did my best to avoid any kind of gender indoctrination as well. If she wants a toy that is in the “boy” section, I don’t discourage it. Her sister, on the other hand, without any help from me, is all about the dolls. OMG, the baby dolls. They outnumber us 5 to 1.
This year, I can have someone help me wrap the gifts from Santa for my youngest daughter (and even pick them out). And it’s not as hard to keep the secret from one when I have one of them in on it. It’s a bit of a relief actually. One of the things I didn’t consider when starting the whole Santa thing was how long it was going to last. Who knew that it would be nearly 10 years before I could spill the beans?