Our oldest asked us when she was in second grade and when I replied she lowered her head and began to sob. I have never felt so much pain come from a child. I felt as though I had betrayed her. My wife and I both looked at each other and we began to cry, sharing the emotion that she was going through.
Eventually our daughter looked up at us and asked again, "There's No Santa Claus?"
What on earth had we just done. Our daughter came to us and asked us not to lie to her.
She said, "Mom, Dad, you've always taught us to be truthful and honest. You told us you'd never lie to us. I want you to tell me the truth, Okay?"
"Okay." We said.
"Is Santa Claus real?" Jenifer asked.
And without even thinking about lying to her I said, "No honey, he's not."
Never mind that she was only in second grade or that she was only seven years old. I sucked it up like a big old fat pig and fell right into it. I didn't even have the common sense to lie to my kid. How awful is that? Her face went first. It morphed into some kind of creature. Pain everywhere. And then the first drops of tears. She hopped up on my wife's lap and wailed like a little baby. I just told my baby there wasn't a Santa Claus. How stupid, stupid, stupid! Mentally processing it I hurriedly thought about how old I was when I wanted that same truth. But I couldn't remember. 7? 8? 9? What on earth had I just done?
My wife and I tried to explain the story. We told her that we still believed in Santa Claus because he still came every year in one form or another. We are all of us Santa Claus in a way, because otherwise nobody would have gifts on Christmas morning. It wasn't long after that that Jeni went back to believing in Santa. She told Lois she thought Santa was just really busy, so moms and dads who could provide were expected to so that he could take care of the other trillion or so. "Isn't that possible?" she asked. Her mom agreed that it was. So Santa was back. And Jeni didn't say anything again for two more years. And then she asked to stay up late one Christmas eve to help put out gifts for Aly.
I will never forget the evening when she asked us that question. It is burned into my brain.
The youngest asked it a couple of weeks ago. I guess I missed it.
My wife asked Jen & Aly's cousin that question the other day and she explained how she knew a few years ago.While we were all walking through the Mall that weekend Aly quietly turned around and muttered to herself, "Hmm, I guess I'm a late bloomer."