Last week, as I was helping facilitate a workshop at 826michigan, a young girl looked me dead in the eye and, as if she were doing me a favor, told me, “Santa Claus doesn’t exist!”
Realizing I was in a room full of 8 – 11 year olds*, I knew I had exactly five seconds to not crush a child’s dreams. So I pulled out my best confused face and said, “Noooooo! Where did you hear that? I have never heard that before.”
“It’s true!” she said.
“Huh,” I replied. Seeing she wasn’t buying my lame attempt at extending her childhood innocence, I continued: “Hey, did you read that on the Internet? Because you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet, you know.”
The girl stared at me for a moment and I could tell I almost had her. Just as I was imagining rounding the podium to accept an Oscar for Best Performance While Lying to A Child, the spell was broken and she said, “No. He isn’t real,” and returned to her craft project.
Well, I tried.
Bonus parenting tip from my mother: Whenever I’d ask if Santa was real as a child, my mother never answered me. Without fail she’d turn Socratic and ask, “What do you believe, Julie?” It was so frustrating! And yet, it was also very effective. After all, she wasn’t technically lying.
*Who, yes, were probably already jaded about the whole Santa thing, thanks to the playground bullies of the world but I wasn’t going to test that theory and ruin Christmas forever.