I ignored this entirely.
He's only in first grade. He's just six. It's too soon.
I remember the first year I knew for certain that Mom and Dad were Santa. I don't remember how old I was but it was older than 6 and it was the year I got my Sonny and Cher dolls. Maybe 1975?
I do not recall discussing this with my parents. I do remember looking for and finding the stash of gifts under a big blanket in our basement and going through them. They were already wrapped and I carefully slipped my finger under the tape on some of the boxes, easing it loose so I didn't tear the paper, and peeking at box tops to see what "Santa" was leaving under the tree.
I remember when my daughter hounded me relentlessly to confirm her suspicions, when apparently none of the other first graders believed any more in Santa. I did not want to let go of the magic yet. She was so little and it was a tough year for us to stop believing. But she would not let it go, and she was not having any verbal stylings from me about the spirit of Christmas being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY ALIVE AND WELL AND COMING TO VISIT NOW PLEASE SHUT UP BEFORE YOU GET COAL and I told her. I told her and I've regretted ever since that I didn't just lie my face off.
So I ignored Shark Boy. I didn't ask what his friends at school were saying about the issue. And now that Christmas is close, I think he has decided to believe. He received a letter from Santa yesterday in the mail (I don't know who sent it. Santa I suppose...) and he was excited about that and anxious to write a thank you in response for the enclosed reindeer ornament.
You know what people always say about how "they grow up so fast"? They say that because damn it all, it's true. And it's not easy. As much as you try - to give, to guide, to model, to insist upon - they will with each passing year be more "in the world". They will make more decisions for themselves and be more "out there" with the big vast world working on them, breaking in with the overwhelming reality of -- of everything.
Magical things will disappear quickly. Fairy tales will be the stuff of childhood stories and Santa will be a charming tradition. How could they have ever thought reindeer could fly a sled around the whole world in one night?
Santa is a lie. You want a truth? Here's a truth: the world will be harsh and unconcerned about our little babies hearts.
I've watched my daughter deal with a lot of things, among them the death of friends from suicide and murder. I can't even believe I am able to type that sentence.
I've talked to Shark Boy about the war more than I care to think about. Why? Where? Will it come here? We're the good guys right? Are we winning?
What will the be the state of the world when my sons are old enough to fight with something other than Nerf guns and plastic light sabers? My soul trembles at the very thought of this.
The world is coming for my boys soon enough. Soon enough they will cease believing in magic and move on from childish things. I believe they will square their broad shoulders and face this world with confidence and strength. And I pray they won't get too hurt in the process.
When I think of fairy tales, including Santa Claus, I see my children like rockets blasting off into space. As they grow they are quickly climbing, gaining altitude into adulthood, headed to whatever orbit is meant for them. As they go, like the space shuttle, things fall away. Things that gave them a boost, that served a purpose for a time, and can be let go when the time is right.