We had a day out at a local Farm centre last week. You know the type of thing, ride on a tractor and chase a woman dressed as a rabbit (aka the Easter bunny)then run around in a field chasing the woman dressed as an Easter bunny who then dished out a lolly for each child from the basket she was carrying. All lovely and fun. My lovelies saw new-born animals, played on a haystack maze and made sandcastles in the giant outdoor sandpit. So I really wasn’t expecting Ollie to suddenly say ‘You know there really isn’t a Father Christmas Mummy…’
I was a bit taken aback considering it is April, we were at a farm and Christmas hadn’t been mentioned for months. He then said ‘Well, I wake up at night and I’ve never seen Father Christmas’. I said ‘well, who brings the presents then?’ He looked at me like I was a total idiot and said ‘You and Daddy bring them in’. I sighed. I paused and then I pondered. Henry, 3, was with us and saying that Father Christmas came into his bedroom as he had had presents in the morning on Christmas day. I cut Oliver short before he did his usual ‘Well actually Henry….’ I said ‘well, as long as you get presents, does it matter who brings them –oh look there’s a sheep!!!!’ He smiled agreed and went off to find the, quite clearly, non-existent sheep.
We’re having tooth loses in the house at the moment. Oliver has lost 2 and despite the agony of the anticipation of losing a bit of himself he was quite consoled with the idea of the tooth fairy bringing him money in return for taking the tooth away. He researched amongst his mates as to how much to expect as recompense and funnily enough, we did the same amongst ours. He was convinced that a girl in his class was getting £100 we were convinced that she wasn’t but we said that he should just wait and see what the tooth fairy brought in the morning as she was best placed to decide. He put the tooth in a ramekin from the kitchen on his bedside table and went to sleep.
He was ecstatic in the morning when £2 was there. He took it to school to show his mates, he told anyone and everyone he came across for a few days of his £2 from the tooth fairy. He was equally ecstatic the following week when he got £1 for another tooth that had fallen out.
The conversation got me thinking though. Should we really be telling these lies about visitors in the night who leave wonderful things at a certain time of the year or their lives? There is no Father Christmas (sorry if no-one told you) or tooth fairy yet we automatically tell our children there are. We have let Christmas become highly commercialised on the back of Father Christmas which we all complain about yet we do nothing to stop it. We don’t say ‘Oh that’s a load of old nonsense’ we join in, insisting that he’s real, reading stories about the night before Christmas and leaving mince pies and sherry that we then bite and drink ourselves to show he was really here. Is it worth it? Yes the children are excited to an unprecedented level for 1 night a year and this is a truly magical time for them but they find out one day that this was all lies and it was really their Mum and Dad sneaking in their rooms filling the stockings hung for the eagerly awaited Father Christmas. We let them down but not by actually coming clean and telling them, no, we let them find out from a mate at school and they must spend the realisation in a melancholic sadness for something they thought was tangible but now isn’t. It may sound dramatic but I bet you can all remember the time when you found out Father Christmas wasn’t real and that’s stayed with you for your entire life. (Incidentally mine was when my elder brother sat me down and told me straight ‘Get real Emma, Father Christmas doesn’t exist. Mum and Dad bring the presents in.’ If he’s reading now -yes! It was you who ruined my dream!)
So bearing all this in mind should I carry on with the tooth fairy? I have a boy who views the world in very black and very white. To him there is no grey so why am I telling him something that’s clearly a huge, fat, whopping lie? I know, one day, we’ll be walking through a car park going to some farm park or suchlike and he’ll turn to me and say ‘You know there isn’t a tooth fairy Mummy..’ and he won’t be fooled by my ‘Wow!!! Have you seen that massive pig over there????’ He’ll turn to me make me look at him and ask ‘Why did you tell me all those lies…?’