So it has happened. It happened yesterday actually.
“Mom can I talk to you?” J sat on the last step of our stairs, as I tidied the coat rack for the millionth time this year.
“Sure honey” I placed the hats on the ground and looked at my little boy.
He took a deep breath, this must be serious I thought as ‘bullying’ flashed through my mind. I rubbed his back, “Go on baby” I coaxed.
“Okay, is Santa really real?” he titled his head,until I could see his dark eyes, filled with questions. Shit I thought, as D had just left to get Ethan from respite. I didn’t want to do this alone. But I knew I had to. I sat beside him,his eyes studying me.
“Well, honey, yes Santa is real. Well, he was real a long time ago.”
“Boys in my class said you and dad buy all my presents”
“There once was a man named Nicolas, he was a toy maker. Nicolas and his wife could not have children of their own. So every Christmas Nicolas would carve toys for all the little boys and girls in the village, where they lived. He would leave them on the doorstep Christmas morning, it was his way of spreading Christmas joy” I watched him as he fidgeted with his jumper. I placed my hand over his. “Did he die?” his eyes narrowed. “Yes baby, he did. But because of his generosity he became a Saint, therefore we call him Saint Nicolas, or Santa. Parents all over the world found out about this Saint Nicolas and thought; wouldn’t it be wonderful for children to believe this magical man could bring toys to children all over the world on Christmas Eve, after all if he could have done this when he was alive, they were sure he would have” I hoped this would still leave a little magic for him.
“So, parents lie?” his eyes widened. “No baby, no. Parents want to make Christmas magical and full of wonder for all children all over the world. It’s the gift of giving and asking for nothing in return.”.”Uhh what did he look like? Did he know it was Jesus’ birthday too?”
“Well, he looked like Santa,white hair, white beard and he even wore a big red suit. Oh of course he knew it was Jesus’ birthday, that’s why he thought every child should celebrate and be given a surprise every Christmas morning, isn’t that nice?” I hoped this might end our conversation.
“I feel sad” his bottom lip stuck out.” I know buddy, I know and that’s ok. That’s ok to be sad” I rubbed his leg. He let out a deep breath. “So, I guess that explains why I can’t get a PS4, a mobile phone or an iPad” he was clearly disappointed. “Well, baby, even if we could afford all that,it is a bit much, ain’t it kiddo” I gently rubbed his back. “Yep, but remember all the presents in the big house you brought me, that was you, not Santa, and that was loads mam, loads” he jumped up. (The big house was a bungalow we rented a few years ago) “Does this mean I can pick my own presents? Can I pick the kids ones too? Can I help wrap them?Can I eat the stuff we leave for Santa?” he seemed to bounce right back from his earlier knock, that is J, that is J all over, resilient little man. I stood up.
“Whoa, whoa, I still have to tell you the most important thing about all this, sit’ I pointed at the step. “When you find about Santa, you must, never, ever, ever say it in front of any other child. Ever.” He nodded. “It’s very important J. This also means that you are exactly half way to be becoming an adult. You are now trusted with the most precious secret in the whole wide world, you must prove you are able to handle this by never ever saying this to another child. EVER” I watched, hoping it was going in. He stood up, put his hand over his heart, “I promise mam. I am a big boy now, it will be our secret.” I stood up, gave him a small hug, (I am not allowed to hug him for long periods of time as I am embarrassing, yes even in our own home) “I knew you were ready kiddo”.
“So, I’m thinking we can all go S-A-N-T-A shopping the next time Ethan is in respite, we’ll throw baby D over to grandad sure. Maybe me, you and dad could do a spot of lunch while we are at it.” he ran off up the stairs before I could answer. I laughed as I grabbed the hats and began to place them on the rack.