Parenting

Is it cruel to support the Santa myth?

With her tween daughter battling mean-girl issues at school, Sandra wonders whether it’s her duty to pull the plug

Credit: Tom Simpson

My nine-year-old still believes in Santa, and I love that she does. (Particularly because I’d be heartbroken for her little sister’s belief to be cut short. As the youngest of four, I had precious few years of true Santa belief before my siblings ruined it for me. But I digress.)

A few years ago, my sister gave the girls special little wooden mailboxes, supposedly imbued with magic so that when you inserted your letter to Santa, it would be transported directly to them. I figured they wouldn’t buy it (city kids), but they loved the concept, and each Christmas can’t wait to send their letters via magic mailbox.

To enhance the experience, Matt and I created a Santa employee named Megan the Mail Elf, who delivered replies on the big guy’s behalf. While the kids are asleep, we read their letters from the magic mailboxes, then reply with a computer-printed letter from Megan.

“Did they buy it?” I asked yesterday morning, knowing the girls had checked their mailboxes while I was in the shower. “Even Bronwyn?”

His eyes widened and he nodded vigorously. “You should have seen them jumping up and down with excitement.”

For a few moments I basked in the reflected happiness of my children, enjoying their innocence and utter belief. Then I was seized by worry:

Bronwyn wasn’t going to take “Megan’s” letter to school… was she?

For the past several weeks, my older girl has had trouble falling asleep, sometimes wandering downstairs or into my room well past 11 pm. Only after Matt took the couch to let her sleep beside me did she confide that she couldn’t stop thinking about the “bossy” girl at school who was “trying to run” her life. This has been going on since September, just like the teachers all warned us it would. “The social blackmail starts in grade four, and continues until they go to university,” said one.

What if my innocent girl proudly displayed her letter from “Megan the Mail Elf” with the bossy girl within earshot? I do know that some of Bronwyn friends have stopped believing in Santa…. The potential for heartbreak was huge.

“Matt!” I whispered. “We have to make sure she doesn’t take that letter to school!” With no further explanation necessary, he nodded in agreement.

So she didn’t take the letter to school (concerns of wrinkling/loss). But I still haven’t solved the root problem. Should I tell my nine-year-old the truth about Santa?

Photo by Tom Simpson via Flickr

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