October 25, 2007

I remember how exciting it was to hear Noah (and now Camille) enter the first stage of questions. The first question was "what's this" (Camille is at this stage now) and it was all about language acquisition and soaking up information about the world. Then Noah entered the "why" stage which at first was cute, but (and I hope this doesn't make me a bad mama) it quickly became annoying. The constant "why" was like little fingernails on a blackboard. We are now in the stage of deeper thought and philosophical questioning at a preschool level. Like "How does God make airplanes...don't people really do all of the work?" or "Does it hurt when you die?" or "Are you going to die soon?" or "how do babies climb out of their mommy's belly button?" or "Is there wind on the moon?" and "I don't think fairies are real, but do you?"

I enjoy these questions because they are so interesting and often so random. Driving in the car he will bring up a topic we have never talked about before. Or in the middle of dinner. Or in the middle of a crowded public restroom. Whenever and wherever a question enters his mind. I can't always answer them which causes him frustration because he seems to think I am withholding information. We take a very direct approach and name the appropriate body parts, explain bodily functions, and the fact that everyone dies (death is a very frequent subject these days which I remember also being a big concern for our then four year old neighbor in Japan). I did some research and found out that there isn't any wind on the moon which means there are/should be the footsteps from that first famous walk on the moon. These questions push me to think about things I hadn't thought about before. Sort of like having a little anthropologist in our midst and I get a kick out of that.

The fairy question prompted a long discussion about belief and reminded me of how much I loved the idea of Santa, The Easter Rabbit, and The Tooth Fairy. I actually remember the moment my cousin, Jennie told me there really wasn't a Santa. I was so sad and I refused to believe it until I found some hidden Santa gifts in my parents' room which confirmed the sad news. I still wish I had never found out the truth. But Noah seems to be different from me. He approaches it in a much more scientific way and I found myself caught in a precarious situation. Wanting so desperately for him to believe in them, but also wanting to always be honest with him. I tried to change the subject, put on kids music, and was saved by our arrival at his school. He's only four shouldn't he still have unwavering belief in these magical creatures? Or perhaps he takes after his dad in this department. His dad who remembers being the one to tell his classmates the "truth" about Santa when they were all very young. So were you the one to "tell" or were/are you the one still clinging to the magic?
Jessica said...

I'm pretty sure I was in the middle of the road--leaning toward the clinging. You might want to take a "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause" appraoch to the fairy thing. ;)

Ann said...

OH, I so want my children to believe in those magical things as long as they can. I remember when I first found out. Santa always came while we were at midnight mass. My Dad always "forgot" something in the house while we were all in the car ready to go to mass( i never put two and two together) until the Christmas when my Dad went back into the house and on the side of window where the blinds leave that ever so small space, I saw my Dad stuffing our stockings...I was mortified. But I still believe and to this day, Santa comes to our house(by way of neighbors and such) while we are at midnight mass and I hope to continue this magic when we have children for as long as I can..

Ann said...

OH and I wanted to add..that I never told my parents that I knew. I think the magic of Christmas was not only for us children, but for my parents as well, and I really liked that.

Mom said...

I guess that I always wanted to a believer, but I couldn't quite ignore certain realities to the contrary. I remember wanting my children to be "believers", but as you can see from Adam, he was also a skeptic, but then there was Stacy who was happy to be a believer!
The funny thing is that when Stacy had children she said she vividly remembered "Chanukah Joe" coming to our house, which we found histerical since we had only taked about Chanukah Joe but never actually produced him! She had Dad dress up as Chanukah Joe for Sarah, who later commented on how his eyes looked just like Poobah's!

dim sum, bagels, and crawfish said...

Ann, I think you are right about the magic being for adults as much as kids. I love that you still have Santa visiting your house! I haven't had a chance to see Chanukah Joe yet, but I love hearing the stories about him.

Heather said...

I came to this old post from your recent one about Noah and the spy kit. I just had to comment. Oswaldo and I thought a lot about this a few years ago, when Ben was old enough to understand Santa. Santa's not really a big part of the Salvadoran Christmas tradition, so O wasn't really tied to it. As for me, well, I remember as a kid mostly being really confused about Santa, like in the scientific way. How does he fit down chimneys when he's so fat? That kind of thing. I do remember one year my parents went all out to convince us Santa was real. Even bringing up the goat from her pen to leave "reindeer tracks" in the mud outside our living room door (we didn't have a chimney). It was a pretty magical memory. But you know, I didn't like being confused. And when I figured out how my parents accomplished everything (I was 9ish), I was impressed by their ingenuity, not sad.

As a parent, I just didn't feel comfortable "lying" to my kids. I want them to have faith in God, and I share with them my faith in God, that He is real and hears and answers their prayers, and I guess part of me fears that my efforts to teach them faith in a Being who truly exists might be undermined by teaching them to have faith in a being that doesn't exist. Does that make any sense? I'm probably being too serious about it, but that's how I feel. Also, I really really dislike the commercialism of the season, and for me Santa represents the "gimmes" that can get way out of proportion during the holidays. So that's another reason we prefer to play down Santa. We play up meaningful gift-giving from person to person by focusing on the Magi and the symbolism of their gifts, and we teach our children about Santa as a cultural tradition, but not as a real person. They actually are more enamored of the Italian tradition of La Befana who leaves goodies in the kids' shoes! (And speaking of Italian Christmas traditions, I love how the children write love letters to their parents and leave them under their plates at the Christmas Eve feast instead of writing letters to Santa asking for toys).

In any case we still say "you have to go to bed so Santa can come fill your stockings!" and they get all excited, but they know that's code for "so Mama and Papa can fill your stockings" It doesn't lessen the excitement or the magic of the moment when they emerge on Christmas morning to see the splendor awaiting them. And the best magic of all is the way their faces glow when they GIVE a gift. That's probably what they'll remember longer, too. At least that's my hope! :)

So that's a super-long comment on an old post, but I just had to pass along my two cents! For what they're worth. :)

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