‘You can’t handle the truth!’ (Or is it just me?)


I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the difficulties of ‘the secret’ when it comes to Christmas. For a couple of years our eldest son asked questions about Father Christmas and we’ve been able to fob him off but this year he’s 8 and it seemed that he really wanted to know the truth so after a quick conflab (or whispered panic conversation behind the fridge door) in the kitchen we decided to come clean and tell him the truth. Both Hubbie and I were worried that we’d destroyed Christmas for Ollie that he would bear a disappointment routed back to ‘that conversation in the kitchen’ but we’ve actually been pleasantly surprised…

Ollie is a very black and white sort of boy. He likes rules, guidelines, to know where he is in life and all that he does. Ambiguity really upsets him and he’s not one to like a surprise. When we first told him the truth about Father Christmas he was quiet but relived I think as to nearly know something is very frustrating for Ollie as he’s certainly never held back on asking a question and to be fair, he did ask the question, he just never got the truthful answer.

A couple of days after our first chat Henry was talking about his Christmas list and Ollie shot me a look. I could see that he was slightly uncomfortable about how to handle the new information he had. I talked to him afterwards and said that now he knew the secret that he shouldn’t ruin it for his brothers that he had had 8 years of believing in Father Christmas. To be honest I think I laid it on a bit thick as I really didn’t want 2 crying little boys on my hands or angry mums at school asking why Ollie had upset their boys. I should have trusted Ollie more though as when I said he shouldn’t tell anyone else as it would ruin it for them he simply replied ‘Mummy… do you really think I’m that sort of boy?’ I was taken aback by his maturity and do you know what? He really isn’t that sort of boy…

Over the past couple of weeks he’s really got into Christmas again. He’s joined in with the pretence of writing letters to Father Christmas, he’s chatted with his brothers about Father Christmas and has even said he would help Henry write his letter (the sudden attack of brotherly love between those two is also a little unnerving!) He’s winked at me when we’ve talked about leaving carrots out for Rudolph and a mince pie for Father Christmas and he’s hugged me when we said that he could stay up a little later this year to help us sort out the presents. He’s loving being part of a different side of Christmas and although it is different it is none the less magical for him as he’s learning that making something special for other people can also make something special for yourself.

I’ve learned that sometimes when children ask the question, whatever question that might be; the answer needs to be considered carefully. Be it the facts of life, does daddy really eat all the biscuits in the biscuit tin? (‘Does he throw all our drawings away in the recycling bin???’) or ‘is Father Christmas really real?’ if they’ve asked the question then it’s something they actually want to know the answer too. I thought that palming him off each year was what we should do that carrying on the magic for another year was the best thing and that to tell him the truth would simply just ruin it for him and no parent wants to be the one who does that to their child but knowing what I do now I think honesty really is the best policy especially for someone like Ollie. How confusing is it when you just know something isn’t right to have your mother –the one that usually insists on everyone telling the truth – clearly keeps telling you a big fat whopping lie? He’d become quite annoyed, insistent about getting the answer and I should have taken him a bit more seriously.

Knowing that Father Christmas doesn’t exist doesn’t actually ruin a childhood or even Christmas. As adults we all know about Father Christmas so it happens to us all at some stage and some of us can remember that day when we found out and some really can’t. What ruins childhoods is when a child asks for honesty and doesn’t get it and this is really much bigger than just Father Christmas. Ollie is much happier now than he was before he found out despite what I and Hubbie thought. He’s revelling in being part of a large secret and he understands, as we’ve talked about it, why we do what we do in fact when we told him that creating memories for them also creates memories for us as despite how tidy their rooms are for the coming of Father Christmas Hubbie always seems to fall over in their rooms (though this may have something to do with the annual bashing of the port that we both do on Christmas Eve) and for 20 secs we both stifle giggles, stand as still as we can with our hands over our mouths hoping we’ve not woken anyone of them up whilst putting their stockings of presents in their rooms. Ollie, with a glint in his eye, said to us ‘I know, you woke me up last year…’

We are moving towards a more grown up relationship with Ollie, one where we answer questions deeper than just ‘why is the sky blue?’ or ‘Can I dress up as Darth Vader for the Christmas nativity?’ he asks ‘how do I know when I’m grown up?’ and comments on how beautiful someone looks. He is wonderful, thoughtful and a kind boy who needs the truth and as he’s shown in the past few weeks he can handle the truth, it’s just me that has the difficulty…

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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4 Responses to ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ (Or is it just me?)

  1. Kerry (Mummy to Evie-Rose) says:

    What a lovely read, and what a lovely little man you have 🙂

  2. Dani says:

    Aw this is such a lovely blog. My eldest is 6 so we’ve still got a couple of years of believing for her to go but I have worried about it recently. I feel kind of comforted knowing that it doesn’t have to be devastating for them. I don’t remember how I found out but I suspect it was at school, but my sister has told me that she remembers me telling her and she was gutted! She’s 5 years younger than me so I really think I ruined it for her while she was so young! I think the way you’ve handled it has probably made all the difference so will be keeping this in mind for when our time does come! Thank you for sharing.xxxx

  3. Mel says:

    And now you eat mine pies! 😀

  4. Aunty Mogg says:

    Thank you for sharing, what a beautiful young man you are nuturing! Congratulations to you and your hubby! Merry Christmas to you all, may Santa sneak something extra special in your memories of this year with your growing up boy!!

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