Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stretching The Truth

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again.  I think it's very important to be honest with your children, and I promised myself when I became a mom that I wouldn't lie to my kids.  If you're a parent, I'm sure you'll agree that that's a really difficult promise to keep.  In many tricky conversations, I let 6 y.o. take the lead and I fill in the blanks with as much truth as I think he can handle.  For example, instead of telling him that the tooth fairy comes and brings money and takes his teeth, I told him that when I was a kid, I had a special tooth fairy pillow to hold my lost teeth and when I woke up in the mornings, I would find money in the tooth pocket.  I also read him a Berenstein Bears book in which Sister Bear lost a tooth and was hoping to see the tooth fairy.  A little deceptive?  Yes.  But I didn't lie!

He pulled tooth #4 at school yesterday, and this morning, as I laid awake with my heart still pounding from having almost forgotten to put money under his pillow, I started to think about why it's so easy for kids to believe in magic.  I don't think they're just gullible because they're young.  I concluded that it's all the little omissions, all the small deceptions, all of the unknown truths, that make the world seem full of wonder and mystery.

Wow #1-

Mom, when I'm 5 and the baby is born, will you tell me how that baby got in there?
I already told you, son.
You told me that God wanted our family to grow, so he let you and Daddy make a baby together.
Right!  And babies grow inside their mommies.
But, HOW did it start to grow?
Well, you know how birds and snakes and lizards lay eggs?  And if there's a daddy bird or snake or lizard, the eggs can hatch into babies?  It's just like that, only with people the eggs stay inside the mommy.  Then the daddy can do his part and make the egg into a baby.

Wow #2-

I think it's easier to believe in Santa Claus than to not.  I mean, if you don't really think about it.  How amazing to go to sleep one night with things just normal, and wake up several hours later with sparkly gifts, full stockings, wishes granted.   If an octopus can open a jar, a cheetah can run 70 mph, a dolphin can find food and sharks with clicks, and a peregrine falcon can use its talons to fight predators in the sky, then why couldn't a reindeer fly?6 y.o. is very observant, and I don't think he believes it's possible that Husband and I could pull off the task of shopping for and wrapping all those presents without him knowing. 

All that being said, 6 y.o. has asked some very tough questions about Santa, all of which I answered without lying:
If he sees me when I'm sleeping and awake, why does he ask if I've been good?
The Santa at the mall had white at the end of his sleeves and pants, but the Santa on the train didn't.  Why does he have to wear different suits?
Why do we donate toys to kids whose parents don't have enough money?  Doesn't Santa bring them presents anyway?
How do the elves make toys that look exactly like the toys in the store?  Couldn't they just buy them?
How has Santa lived for so many years?
Why does he want to live where it's so cold?
Did Santa bring presents to Baby Jesus?
Is Santa a real person?
If cookies are Santa's favorite food, why doesn't Mrs. Claus bake some for him?

Wow #3-

Come to think of it, 6 y.o. is not wowed nearly enough by technology.  He finds it fascinating that phones used to stay plugged in to the wall, not that we can now fit them into our pockets.  He laughs when I tell him about records and cassette tapes, and even CDs, but the fact that we can play any song with a few taps and clicks on the computer seems totally normal.  The concepts of long-distance calling, having to watch tv shows only when they're broadcast, and not being able to immediately see the photos you took are mind-boggling to him.  

The truth is, we do live in a marvelous, amazing, awesome, magical world.  Sometimes, looking around at it through a child's eyes can remind us just how wonderful it is.  I know I didn't come up with this phrase, and I'm probably going to butcher it, but it still rings true: Magic is just science we don't yet understand.  I don't think it's wrong to let 6 y.o. believe that there's a castle in the clouds made entirely of children's teeth (which is what he would do with them if he was the tooth fairy), and I don't think we're doing him a disservice by letting him leave out a plate of cookies on Christmas Eve.  Although, Mrs. Claus could probably find new cookie recipes that her husband would like by looking on the internet...

How old were you when you stopped believing in magic?

What is the most amazing thing you've seen lately?


  1. I haven't stopped believing in magic. Today I saw lovely, rainbow colored leaves growing on trees and blowing in the sky. Isn't that amazing?!

  2. I feel that the entire universe is magical in its phenomena and processes.
    >"How old were you when you stopped believing in magic?"
    The child's developing mind absorbs in a way best suited to its current development. When the child matures, this is set aside and the concepts are grasped in a new way.

  3. I would say that 'science' is just what we call the small part of the way things work that we think we understand.