Friday, December 27, 2013

The Art of Deception

With another Christmas season in the rear view mirror, I have been thinking a lot about the lies we tell our children to keep the magic alive. It may seem harsh to say it that way, but it's true. And I am not very good at sneaking around. Take the Tooth Fairy for instance. Paul has lost five teeth, and each time I need to sneak into his room to retrieve a tooth and leave some quarters I have an overwhelming fear of being caught. What would I do if his little eyes popped open and discovered that Mom was the Tooth Fairy? He lost tooth #4 at school and I carefully placed it in a tissue and put it under his pillow. That night I was out and when hubby put Paul to bed they could't find the tooth. I went back during the night, feeling around in the dark for the missing tooth. Eventually I gave up, slid the money under his pillow and hoped he wouldn't roll over and discover the missing tooth. Thankfully my deep sleeper didn't hear me rummaging around, and I found the tooth in the sheets the next day when the boy was at school.
This Christmas as I was putting Santa presents under the tree I had a similar fear of getting caught. Paul said he wanted to "catch Santa" by staying awake and hoping to spot him coming down the chimney. As I sat on the couch munching on carrots and gingerbread cookies I kept a watchful eye toward the hallway leading into our family room. Every noise worried me (which did not stop me from slurping up the milk) and I tried to formulate some sort of explanation should my eldest make an appearance. Again, I was saved by deep sleep.
There will come a day, hopefully not too soon, where the boys will realize that mom and dad are the ones buying the gifts and putting them under the tree each year. What will be the punishing blow? For my eldest niece, it was the discovery of a box containing all her baby teeth. Her mother had performed elaborate feats to keep my niece's beliefs alive for a long time, and the day she discovered the box of teeth was difficult and painful. Everything fell like dominoes and my mother-in-law needed to comfort her granddaughter for hours as she cried away the magical mysteries of childhood. The good thing about my boy is that despite his penchant for the practical, he has a strong spark of imagination. He sleeps with a row of stuffed animals and his sacred blue blanket every night, talking with them in a secret language that only he understands. It makes me smile because, despite our lack of genetic connection, we share a similar spirit. I too spoke to my stuffed animals and had a secret language that I shared with my invisible friends. It is that spirit that will keep Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny alive a bit longer. I have a feeling that even when he figures it all out, he will still want to participate in the ritual and will still appreciate the magic of Christmas. I hope we can hang on for a few more years. Seeing the faces of my boys light up when they got what they wished for was an amazing moment. Paul even got a few extra things that weren't on his modest list. It was worth all the lies and scamming, the sneaking around with bags and special wrapping paper, to experience the pure joy of a childhood miracle.

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