Saturday, April 14, 2012

Santa pause

If you've known me for a while, you probably know that I'm anti-Santa. For a lot of people, it's because of the lie. That's not the case with me. It's because I think the mythology sends the wrong message to kids: Be good because you can get material goods if you are. And, in my mind, the contrapositive is also true: If you do not get material goods, then you are not good. Or good enough. You get the picture. I'm also anti-Rudolph because of the message that sends: If you're different, we'll tease you until you're useful to us, and then we'll forgive you for having been different and call it even. OK? OK.

Jeffrey is decidedly pro-Santa. This has been a disagreement between us since before we had Abbott. He thinks it's magical, and that we should give children as much magic as we can, which is not very much, and only during a very short window of opportunity. I get that, but I've never thought that was compelling enough to compromise the value message.

Then this week, I finally heard an argument that I think might actually change my mind. I was talking with my friend Jake about Easter and religion and all of that, and Santa came up. He told me about an essay he'd read that said, among other things, that it teaches kids that adults lie. And that hit me like a brick. That is a really valuable lesson that I never learned.

I grew up believing that adults don't lie, that it was only something that immature people (read: kids) did. In fact, I still think about the first time an adult lied to me in my adult life. It was right here at my job. She just looked right in my face and lied. And I knew it. I was 23 and shocked. And I've gone through that shock and heartbreak again and again since then. It happened to me last week. I'm somehow perpetually naive (and, oddly, incredibly cynical), and I've been wondering how this happens to me over and over again. Well, bam. I finally know where it came from.

So if this is a way for Abbott to find out (in 6 or 8 years) that adults lie, that might be worth it to me. I don't want him going through this constant grieving of innocence if he can avoid it. I want him to know -- not just intellectually, but really know -- that people lie. And you have to have your guard up.

This hasn't completely changed my mind yet, but I'm definitely thinking about it. I'm sticking by that Rudolph thing, though.

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