Monday, December 27, 2010

[If] Mommy Says No Santa [Says Yes]

I wrote about Santa two years ago.

I guess I don't really have anything to add to that, except that it continues to surprise me how many parents I know embrace the Santa thing.  In part I think it has to do with happy childhood memories; if you believed in Santa and didn't feel traumatized by the disillusionment, you're more likely to want your kids to have the same experience -- or to want to revisit the belief yourself. 

There are lots of good reasons not to lie to your kids, especially about something so trivial.  I mean, really, the default should always be honesty unless there's a particularly good reason to lie.  And this is what gets me about the Santa thing: no one ever gives a good reason for doing it.  "Magic," they say, as if the very absurdity of the story justifies it.  The thing is, it's only magical to grown-ups, because we're the ones who live in a world where Santa cannot exist.  It's not particularly magical to children, because so many explanations are beyond their comprehension, and so much of their understanding is about taking our word for stuff.  Is it so much more magical to think that a fat dude in a red suit delivers presents down the chimney than that a burly dude in a brown uniform brings them from grandparents in Wisconsin to your front door in Schenectady?  To us, sure, but to a little kid? So is it really about making more magic in their lives, or is it about reliving the magic of our own childhoods?

As a kid who grew up knowing presents came from mom and dad, I can assure you that there's no lack of magic on Christmas morning for kids like me.  You can even indulge in some of the Santa stuff -- I certainly got presents "from Santa" and left out cookies, knowing full well that Mom and I were playing pretend (Dad not so much a participant in the Santa thing), and enjoying it no less, and maybe more, for the knowledge.  At the age when most kids are learning The Truth about Santa, I could throw myself wholeheartedly into the fantasy because it was never a matter of True or Not True; it had always been a myth.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Don't Like Children, Either.

(Good grief!  I announce my return and then proceed to blow off the blog for two months.  Sorry!  The longer I go, the more pressure I feel to make a truly spectacular blog entry, and it's kind of making me crazy, so I'm just dashing this off to get the ball rolling.)

The other day, we were listening to the weather report on the radio, and the weather guy was talking about storms in the midwest, and Andy asked Ben what the dude on the radio was talking about, and Ben said, "Vat dude talk 'bout soda."  Yep -- Minnesota.

It's pretty fascinating, seeing through the eyes of a two-and-half-year-old.  Also infuriating.  It truly boggles the mind how many times one person can be told NOT TO GRAB THE DOG'S EARS and yet still, about once an hour if not more, grab the god-damned dog's ears.  How is that so tough to grasp when other things are absorbed and incorporated into his worldview so fast I can't even work backwards to figure out where he learned them?  He started praising dinner recently by calling it a "(s)pecial meal."  This is not something Andy or I say, or have ever said probably, and so it took us some time to figure out where it came from.  A book about Thanksgiving, we finally figured out, which talks about people traveling to each other's homes for a special meal.

One of the things that continues to fascinate me is how fascinating Ben is compared to other children, who are all -- apologies to their parents, some of whom are my dear friends -- awfully dull.  This is part of why I haven't written lately: all the things it occurs to me to write about ("Vat dude talk 'bout soda") fall so distinctly into the category of It's Interesting When It's My Kid; I Don't Care When It's Yours.  It makes me think about a good friend of mine who explained his lack of desire for his own children by pointing out that he didn't particularly like children.  Even before I had a kid, I had a pretty good idea that that was some bogus reasoning.  I don't like children, either, as a rule.  They're ignorant and selfish and dishonest and rude and make extremely tedious conversation.

My own kid, though?  Total gem.