I’m sharing this post because I believe this conversation, when a child learns the truth about Santa, is such a huge milestone. I worried about I how I would handle it when the moment came, and the truths about Santa, the Elf on the Shelf and the Tooth Fairy came to light. I think it went well, from a mothering aspect. And I hope it might help other parents who are nervous about the day when their children ask…..
“Mom is Eddie the Elf real? Because Morgan on the playground said the moms and dads just move the elves around at night,” said my oldest daughter.
“Do you move Eddie around at night?” She continued as I emptied the dishwasher. My other two girls were in the bath and I tried to avoid answering her, saying she need to go upstairs and get ready for bed too. It was the start of what I knew would lead to the BIG SANTA talk. She is eight years old and this was not the first time she has had questions about how it all works.
But still, I wasn’t ready for it.
Then came the whammy…..
“You don’t lie to me, right mom?” she asked. “I don’t lie to you and you don’t lie to me. So is Eddie real?”
I told her to think about it a little more and if she really wanted to know the answer, we would talk about it. I wanted to make sure she was ready for the truth.
JUST THE NIGHT BEFORE , she made a bed for Eddie the Elf and was all jazzed up about out leaving him notes, and cookies and even sewed a pillow for him. I had a feeling she really wanted to believe.
I believed in Santa for so long that my mom finally had to sit me down and tell me the truth so I didn’t embarrass myself on the playground. I know I was older than 10.
My older brother used to leave ash boot marks on the fireplace hearth and ring bells outside as I was going to sleep. I WAS A BELIEVER! And when my mom told me truth – I didn’t believe her.
Off went my daughter upstairs to get ready for bed. When I went to her room to tuck her in, she continued with her questions.
“Mom, I really want to know. I want to know the truth. Is Eddie real?” she asked.
This was the moment when I felt like parenting was hitting the big leagues.
She was shocked to hear the real answer. But I was glad I told her.
It didn’t feel right fabricating stories to keep her believing. It has always felt like lying to me.
One of my good mom friends brought up the great point that this all depends on your own personality. She loves fantasy and is naturally passing that trait down to her daughter, to the point that her eight-year-old has convinced other neighborhood kids that she herself is a real fairy.
I tell things straight up. So much so that sometimes I wish I knew better about when to embellish a story and when keep my mouth shut.
So like mother like daughter, I looked my eight-year-old right in the eye and talked straight.
“No he’s not real. It’s true. Mom and dad move Eddie around at night,” I said.
As soon as she was over the shock, came the BIG, IS SANTA REAL QUESTION? For the moment she was okay with a simple yes. Thank goodness.
“The Elf on the Shelf comes from the store, but Santa does not. He’s the real thing,” I explained, doing a crummy job at bluffing.
Thinking of how my brother loved to make Santa seem more believable for me after he was a non-believer, I snuck her back down stairs with me to do the nightly Eddie duties of moving him and leaving out the M&Ms for the next morning.
This is my favorite part of the deal – that she will never let us forget to move the elf again. I don’t have to wake up panicked for 25 nights in December trying to remember if he got moved before I dropped into bed for my good night’s slumber.
And she loves this little secret we have!
BUT IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG for her to ask me what I do with the letters the kids leave out for Santa, to be delivered by Eddie.
I swear, this Elf on the Shelf business really complicates the classic long-time Santa schemes kids have believed in for decades.
But I could tell she didn’t want to know the answer.
“Here mom, I’ll just give them to you because you know what to do with them,” she said, handing over one of her last letters to Santa.
I was not ready for that either. It seems with this not believing in Santa stuff, a slice childhood is disappearing too fast.
It took all of two days before she found me alone in the laundry room – which is one step away from the bathroom when it comes to having private conversations in a house with three girls. She came down to hand deliver a letter to Santa to me, that she wrote. It said, “Dear Santa, I want to have a magical Christmas.”
Then came the second whammy…..
“Mom, I want to have that talk now. I want to know if Santa is real,” she said. “Because Elli said he found their family’s Santa bag in the basement.”
I told her I just wasn’t ready for this.
“Mom, it will be okay. I just want to know,” she said consoling me as I thought about our red Santa bag. It says Simmons and it gets left under the tree every Christmas morning. And we keep it hidden in the basement.
As I pulled toddler size panties from the dryer, it was time to fess up – to tell the truth.
“No Santa is not real,” I said. “And our red Santa bag stays hidden in the basement too, like Eli’s.
Her first question was if Santa doesn’t bring the presents, how do we afford to buy all those gifts?
Finally, the day was coming when the man in the red suit wasn’t going to get all the good credit for those thoughtful gifts!
Then she asked who gets presents for dad and me. When I told her grown ups don’t get Santa presents, she had the sweetest response in the whole world.
“Well, I’m going to make you extra presents this year since I know Santa is not bringing you anything,” she said.
And she continued to knock my socks off….
“Thanks for telling me the truth mom,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. There is no way Santa can go like this [putting one finger on one side of her nose] and go up a chimney or go to every house in one night. I’m glad I know. I feel relieved.”
She is SO BIG. When did eight-years-old all the sudden get this big?
Then I finally got to tell her, that her triple doll bunk bed was made by Gramps. Two years ago she asked Santa for the American Girl version that was super expensive and sold out. When the handmade Ebay version of the one I ordered never came, my dad made one the week before Christmas and I sewed the bedding.
She was touched by the story, of knowing that truth. And she feels like we have this cool mom and me secret as we work together to keep the little girls believing.
The next morning we watched “Miracle on 31st Street snuggled on the couch with hot chocolate. I was hoping she would see Christmas could still be magical, even if you don’t believe all the tiny details of Santa.
She seems like an older child to me now. And I feel like we became more bonded over the truth. We laughed together, snuggled and shared some of the elf’s extra M&M’s stash when her sisters where already in bed.
Just when I was settling into the new us…. the third whammy came….
“Mom, are you the Tooth Fairy,” she asked humorously while stomping into the kitchen the next afternoon.
“Nope, I’m not going there right now,” I told her. “I’m not ready!”
She laughed at me.
“Seriously mom, are you the Tooth Fairy? I need to know,” she pleaded.
“Yes I am the Tooth Fairy but I didn’t save your teeth because that is gross,” I joked right back at her. “I put them all in the trash.”
She laughed at me again.
“Ewww mom, that IS gross. I would have thrown them out too,” she said.
Yep, she is most definitely eight! And I really, really like it.
For record, this post was approved by my daughter and she gave me the thumbs up to share it here. Otherwise I have tucked it away in my own mom files. I hope you enjoyed our story.