Originally published on athens.patch.com on 12/1/11
My 7-year-old son Jaydon inherited his mother’s inquisitiveness. So it’s only fair that I avert his life questions to Carla.
Jay: “Dad, how did God create the world?”
Me: “Your mom sings in the choir. You should ask her.”
Jay: “Dad, how do tornadoes happen?”
Me: “Your mother lived in Kansas for a few years. You should ask her.”
Jay: “Dad, what makes boys and girls different?”
Me: “Your mom has a biology degree. You should ask her.”
Last week he asked me a question — in the form of a statement — that caught me off guard.
“Dad, I just don’t believe there’s a Santa Claus,” he said.
Thankfully, his little brothers weren’t around to hear this in his more-than-certain tone. Knowing we were on our way home where he could destroy their Christmas dreams, I felt that I couldn’t wait for Carla to bail me out. My mind raced to memories of my own childhood. When did I question Santa? I never had a chance. In second grade, Sister Mary told us there was no Santa. That won’t work here. Next my mind raced to WWCD — what would Carla do? Shoot. I don’t know. I really should’ve listened more to her answers to his questions. Then my mind jumps to the multiple parenting books and articles that Carla has forwarded me over the years. I really should’ve read those more intuitively, but I think I can scrape together an answer. (Please note by no means is this an actual step-by-step solution to answering kids’ difficult questions. It’s just what my brain put together from stuff I think I read at some point.)
Step one: Ignore child’s question.
I turn up the radio. Jay isn’t satisfied.
“Dad. Dad. DAD! Please turn the music down. Please just be honest with me. Is Santa for real?”
Step two: Avert child’s question.
I ask Jay about his day at school.
“It was fine,” he said. But I don’t want to talk about that now. Please tell me if Santa is real.”
Step three: Answer child’s question with another question.
I ask, “If Santa isn’t real, then who do you think puts all those gifts under the tree?”
He answers, “I think you and mommy buy the gifts, wrap them and put them under the tree when we are asleep.”
Step four: Repeat step three, in an attempt to exhaust child.
“Well you know mom and dad don’t have a lot of money. How in the world could we afford so many gifts?”
He answers, “You just charge it.”
(Great. Looks like we’ve already instilled bad financial habits on him.)
Step five: Use threats on child.
“Well you know what happens if you don’t believe in Santa. He won’t bring you gifts.”
After a few seconds of thoughtful silence, I think I may have caught him off guard.
“Will Jackson and Matthew still get gifts?” he asks.
Perfect! I think I found my out, which leads me to step six.
Step six: Guilt the child.
“That’s right,” I said. “Don’t ruin Christmas for your little brothers.”
“OK,” he answers. “But I just have one more question.”
Excited that I may have escaped this conundrum, I confidently encourage him to ask me anything.
“I know Jackson and Matthew were in mommy’s tummy. How did …”
Before he could complete the question, I give him my answer.
“It was your mommy’s belly. You should ask her.”