Of all the things to get stressed about over Christmas – and as a mum, there are plenty – worrying about whether my son continues to believe in Father Christmas just isn’t worth getting my tinsel in a twist about.
But this has been a hot topic at the school gates for the last few weeks.
My son George is six and, as for many children his age, Christmas is the most thrilling time of the year.
Visits to Santa’s grotto, the daily shenanigans of the elf and the seemingly endless countdown on the advent calendar all add up to a very excited little boy. But, although he still believes and obsesses every day about whether he is on the nice or the naughty list, it is inevitable that he will hear sooner or later that Santa isn’t real.
Or maybe he’ll just start questioning it himself.
I mean, he regularly asks me if Jurassic Park or Superman are real, so why wouldn’t he ponder the existence of Father Christmas?
I love keeping Christmas magical for him, and of course I’d like him to believe forever, but I am not going to be worrying about what he might hear from his classmates, or older kids in his school. And I certainly won’t be blaming anyone if he comes home and says Bobby (not his real name) told him that it’s actually the mummies and daddies that leave presents out on Christmas Eve.
But it seems I am the minority in the mums that I know. The last few weeks of this term at school have been fraught with whispered disagreements at the school gates and pointed Facebook posts about the importance of children believing in Christmas.
The snarky comments and pointing the finger at other kids – and their parents, of course – when a child has come home from school wondering if St Nick is the real deal, have really made me wonder why parents are getting so wound up about it. And isn’t this type of bitching just not really spreading Christmas joy?
One such passive-aggressive social media post, obviously aimed at somebody specific, read, “My son has heard at school and keeps telling me that Santa isn’t real! Now I’m pulling out all the stops to make sure he believes. Please stop being so selfish and tell your kids to shut up if they are non believers! We believe in magic in my house!”
Well, that’s fine, just tell your little darlings that the other kid was wrong. Problem solved. No need for drama.
Although I appreciate the desire to keep the Santa story going for as long as possible, I think parents expecting other parents to be able to police what their children say to their friends is, frankly, ludicrous.
I simply refuse to fret about it, and I don’t consider this a selfish thing at all – it is just realistic. George came home from school once telling me that one of the children in his class doesn’t have to have bath every night, moaning that I made him do it. Did I start accusing all the other parents of what they were allowing their kids to say? Of course I didn’t, because I’m not unhinged. I just simply said, well that’s not what happens in this house. We all do things differently, Christmas included, and that’s absolutely fine with me.
Like most parents, I will be spending the run up to Christmas trying to clear the decks of work commitments, balancing the Christmas budget, buying last-minute gifts and braving the supermarket for the grocery shop. I refuse to spare any of my frazzled brain power on worrying whether George has any doubts about Santa in his head – or who has let the cat out of the bag.
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