*Update* Zack still kinda doesn't believe and periodically asks, just to be sure, "Mom? Santa isn't real right? So, even if I'm not good sometimes, he really doesn't have a naughty list or anything like that, right?"
Originally posted on Christmas Day 2011...
Call me a grinch, but I don't want my son to believe in Santa. It is a waste of time, and feels like a terrible, drawn out practical joke. One day, he will find out that it was all a lie and what good does the whole believing in Santa thing do anyway.
A few weeks ago I saw the Mission Impossible meets Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer film Arthur Christmas with my almost 4 year-old. It is an awesome little movie about how Santa and his elves get gifts under children's trees on Christmas Eve. That is how my son learned about Santa. A few days before Christmas, he asked me if Santa was going to bring his gifts through our fireplace while he was sleeping. Our conversation went something like this:
Him: Mom, will Santa bring my presents and put them under the tree while I'm sleeping on Christmas Eve so when I wake up I will see them and be happy?
Me: Well. Actually, mom and dad buy your gifts, wrap them up and put them under the tree. Santa is just pretend. You know, like Batman and Little Bill? Just pretend. So, he can't bring your presents because he's not real.
Him: But mo'om! I LOVE Santa! I want Santa to bring my presents!
Me: But he's just pretend, remember?
Him: No, mom, I WANT SANTA!
Me: Mmmkaaaaay? Ok.
Him: *pumps fist* Yes!
I tried. I guess I could have continued to try to convince him, but he was so insistent and I am not a monster. So I gave up, and let him have his not-pretend Santa. Unbeknownst to me at the time, not-pretend Santa would come in handy during the days leading up to Christmas.
We are Christians, and are teaching our son about Jesus. I could talk about how confusing the concept of real Jesus/fake Santa is to a 3 year-old, but I'm not an expert on the topic. My son, however displayed his depth of understanding at one point when he did proclaim that if Santa was pretend then Jesus was pretend too, because they're both "watching" (wink-wink) to see when I'm bad. My husband, who is a closer friend to Jesus than me, almost had a heart attack and tried explaining that Jesus is in fact real and that Christmas is his birthday...at which point my son said he wanted to give Jesus a race car for his birthday. And if Jesus is real and cares for him, then Jesus and Santa must be friends. So. I digress.
I must give props to not-pretend Santa because he did a much better job than mommy, daddy, and Jesus combined to get my son to walk the straight and narrow. I did not have to ask him twice to do anything! The first time I witnessed Santa's power was when Zack refused to take his nap...
Me: Zack, come into your room, it's time to rest up so you'll have energy for later.
Him: I have lots of energy! I don't WANT to take. my. nap.
Me: Hmmm. I bet if I call Santa (because all parents have Santa's cell phone number), he wouldn't be to happy with your behavior right now.
Him: NO! (He runs into the room.) Mommy, don't call Santa! Let's try again! (He leaves the room.) Ok mom, NOW tell me it's nap time again! (I did)...
Him: OKAAAY MOOOOM! (Runs into room and dives into bed. Score 1 for Santa)
For two whole days, Santa was my homeboy. How many times did I say, "Do I need to call Santa to tell him how you're behaving right now?" Sometimes, when Zack would slip up, he would stop and say, "Um. Santa wouldn't like that too much, huh?" Not-pretend Santa had my son, self-correcting! For one second, I was tempted to get an Elf on The Shelf--you know the little doll that looses it's magical powers if touched by a child and keeps an eye on the kids, comes to life and reports to Santa at night while everyone is asleep and moves to a different location in the house every day? The good-behavior payoff would be incredible, but to keep that up for a whole year would be kind of evil and ultimately, very creepy.
I don't know what I'm gonna do after Christmas. #JudgeMe for using not-pretend Santa to my advantage, but I was drunk with power. Knowing my son, this puts a bit of a wrench in our 'behave well to please God and Jesus' thing. Zack is sure to question why Santa can't be real like Jesus, but he is just three years old. He has plenty of time decide what he's going to believe, but please, Dear Santa and Jesus, let him believe in Santa for the next 364 days. At least! Thanks and Amen. lol
Do you encourage your child to believe in Santa? Has it interfered at all if you're also teaching them about Jesus?