Since it's been approximately 873 kajillion days since I've written anything longer than a Facebook post or a tweet, here's a brief summary of what has happened in our world: my husband is still married to me, I'm older but not more mature, oldest kid is a senior with a car and is busy with the college search, middle kid is a sophomore and grew no less than eight inches last year, youngest kid is a 4th grader and, up until this morning, she still believed in Santa.
Yes, that's right, I prolonged that lie for as long as I could, enjoying every year of bribery, letting her sound like a fool to her non-believing friends with her "well who is eating the cookies!" argument. I convinced her that Santa had a $50 dollar spending limit and didn't go to Best Buy. And even though the last few years meant that I'd be up later and later, well after her wise to the world older brothers finally went to bed so I could stuff the stockings and hang them by the doesn't-have-a-chimney-gas fireplace with hope-the-weight-of-this-shit-doesn't-crash-to-the-ground care, I nurtured the existence of Santa.
Lately, Zoe has been asking me no fewer than three times each day if Santa is real. And while I normally have a rolling list of boring replies like "of course he's real" and "don't listen to your friends, they're all crack babies and don't know anything," there are times when I'm completely unprepared because she asks the question at the worst possible moment, like when I'm tweezing my eyebrows or trying to prepare frozen waffles. Plus, there's the fact that lately, every time I lie about it, I feel guilty, knowing that she's only going to ask the same question again tomorrow because at school "Katie said that she has proof because her mom TOLD her that SHE buys all the presents!" and I'll be thinking yeah, well, good for Katie's mom and her ability to enjoy the holiday season without having to buy special Santa wrapping paper.
A few days ago, out of nowhere but possibly because she had a loose tooth, she said "Well, I'm not completely sure about Santa but at least I know that the Tooth Fairy is real." FUCKING FUCK YOU GUYS! The Tooth Fairy?! Are you kidding me right now? I was sure that she had stopped believing in that crap at least a year ago, possibly when I said something like "Zoe, seriously, do you honestly think that some chick dressed like a fairy comes into our always-locked house in the middle of the night without making the dog bark, takes your stinky tooth, and leaves a handful of change?"
So again, instead of coming right out and saying "your parents are liars and there isn't a tooth fairy," I tried to convince her to use logical thinking skills. The conversation went something like this:
Zoe: The cool thing is that the Tooth Fairy pays more for molars.
Me: That is false.
Zoe: What's false, the Tooth Fairy or the money?
Me: Well, the money, but also, why would someone want a bunch of teeth?
Zoe: For her collection. Lots of people have weird collections. Hers just happens to be a collection of stinky teeth.
Me: But what does she do with them?
Zoe: The same as everyone else! She just keeps them in a room. But she doesn't ever go in that room and she has to keep the door closed because it smells so bad.
Me: Really, Zoe. This makes sense to you...
Zoe: Well, yes. And I know the Tooth Fairy is real because there was that time when you and I were gone and when I got home there was money where I had left my tooth. But I'm still not sure about Santa. Is Santa real?
Me: I think we should just keep talking about the Tooth Fairy.
Yesterday, while biting down on a ham sandwich, that loose molar jammed sideways and "was just hanging by a thread of skin" so Zoe, who is not squeamish when it comes to cash-generating molars, reached in and yanked that bloody sucker out. She promptly put it in a cup and left it on the bathroom counter, waiting for her bounty.
This morning, when Charlie came down for breakfast, he said "hey, Tooth Fairy, don't you need to put some money in the bathroom for Zoe's tooth?" and I'm all CRAP! I FORGOT! So I handed him a few quarters and told him that he could do the sentimental ritual of chucking the tooth in the garbage. He's like "Nice! What if she looks in there and sees it?" and I'm like duh, kid, make an effort to hide the thing under some kleenex or something.
I know, I'm teaching vital parenting skills here.
While standing in the bathroom after her shower, Zoe started talking about Christmas and how she had started making a list of things she wanted, and was deciding which item-that's-under-$50 to ask Santa for, and then BAM! Oh and hey by the way is Santa real? The Dixie cup of quarters was still sitting on the bathroom counter and just like that, I wanted to stop the lies. She was old enough to deal with the truth and anyway, I kind of wanted to start getting a little more credit for all the work I put into filling those stockings with kick ass shit. So, as I thought about all the future bribery opportunities I was about to lose, I said "Well, Katie may have a very valid argument."
I stood there and watched her brain churn, trying to process the many layers of Santa, and it was then that her eyes drifted down to the cup of quarters. "Well, then, I guess it was you who put those quarters there." "Actually, no," I said. "It wasn't," and as her eyebrows went up... "it was your brother." Salt, meet wound.
She seemed to handle the death of Santa surprisingly well, but then, while I was blowdrying her hair, she started to cry. And I started to feel like shit, knowing that our house was done with Santa (and the Tooth Fairy) forever. She just stood there mumbling things like "but the cookies! and the letters! and the special wrapping paper! and the cool stuff in my stocking!" and while I was sympathetically saying "Yeah, I know, I'm sorry," while trying not to burn her hair, I was also thinking "Yeah! Tell me about it! It was soooo much work! And I got credit for NONE of it! But things are gonna change, oh yeah, you got that right!"
We ended up talking about how believing in Santa makes Christmas really fun, but obviously knowing the truth about him shouldn't make it any less fun. I mean, her brothers haven't believed in Santa since they were in 4th grade, and they still love Christmas and get a cool present "from Santa." We talked about how Christmas is about so many things other than Santa: time off from school, spending time with family, parties, amazing food, cool presents, possibly a tennis tournament, sleeping in and laughing at the freaky neighbors who hyper decorate their houses. You know, all the important things.
By the time she was ready for school, she was feeling better and didn't seem too bummed. Maybe she was relieved to know the truth, knowing that she had one less thing to argue with the kids at school about. And then, when I was dropping her off, she said with a smirk, "So, then, maybe I won't ask Santa for a movie, but will ask for a 3DS instead, since maybe now he'll spend more than $50."