Years ago I took my preschool-aged son and his little sister to the mall to see the best Santa ever—the real McCoy, if you will. My daughter was too young to have a clue; but her brother? He was in awe, and rattled off his wish list—probably filled with Rescue Heroes. He departed after getting a wink and a nod and a coloring book from the man in red.
Because outings to the mall back then were a rare, special occasion, I then took the kids to the food court for a treat. Soon, my son was playing with his straw, grabbing the salt shaker, and generally behaving like a typical, rambunctious three-year-old.
“Remember: Santa’s watching,” I warned. It was my oft-uttered phrase that had proven pretty effective at helping him mind his manners in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is easier for a mom to make Old Saint Nick the heavy.
My son barely skipped a beat.
“No, he’s not,” he stated while continuing to play with the salt shaker. “He’s around the corner asking kids what they want for Christmas.”
To that, I had no clever reply. So I just said, “Well, I’M watching you. And I give you more gifts than he does.”
He put down the salt and sat still.
This season, several days after Christmas, my son, at age 12, finally confessed to me that he no longer believes in Santa. Of course it wasn’t a surprise; he’d stopped believing in the Easter Bunny when he was four, so really, Papa Noel couldn’t have been too far behind when logic starts trumping magic.
His sister? She won’t go there yet, and that’s fine.
As the calendar flipped to 2014, I barely thought about resolutions, which I loathe making. But then I heard a suggestion on some news program that rather than making a list of “to do” items to carry us through the next 12 months, we could instead come up with a word that will help guide us. My choice came to me in an instant:
Not in Santa, or Big Foot, or other magical, mystical creatures. It was time for me to believe in myself, my parenting abilities, the power of my love for my husband and kids. Believe in my children, that they are smart and compassionate; they are healthy, happy and wonderfully quirky individuals.
I used to see the glass half-full, if not overflowing. Then parenthood kicked my confidence, allowing a pessimism to cloud my vision for a while. It’s time I start believing what I see, what I know to be true.
May some peace of mind and comfort come with that simple, directive word.