If you read my article The Bridge a few months ago, then you know that lately I have found myself and my oldest child standing somewhere between childhood and adolescence. I have an important update. We finally crossed over the bridge.
Now, I know Santa didn't really die and Christmas is all about magic and magic is in our hearts and all that happy stuff. But, in that moment, when my oldest looked at me and asked "Has it all been a lie?", if felt like a death.
It started out like a normal Sunday. Actually, not really normal. We are in the beautiful space between basketball and baseball season where there are a small handful of days without practices and games. We invited family over and had a lazy day spending time together. But, while playing basketball in the driveway with his father and his uncle, my oldest saw an opportunity and took it.
The first one to die was the Tooth Fairy. Logic did that poor fairy in.
He asked them to tell him about the Tooth Fairy. He and some of his friends had talked and compared notes about her and the numbers didn't add up. Some kids got $1. Some kids got $2. Some kids got $5. Some kids got $10. So, he asked for confirmation that the Tooth Fairy was "just the parents doing it."
He's 11 1/2. They told him the truth.
It quickly unraveled from there.
A few hours later, as we all were settling into bed, my oldest seized another opportunity. He stood at the foot of my bed as I snuggled under the covers. I was feeling safe and cozy in my fuzzy socks with the warmth of a few Jameson cocktails settling into my blood. He took advantage and said "So...if the Tooth Fairy isn't real, how can any of it be real? Has it all been a lie?"
I'd feared this moment since the very first time we talked about Santa with this child. I had practiced it over and over in my head. I had bookmarked great articles and saved suggested letters and activities to help tell the children the truth. It was going to be perfect!
As soon as the question left his lips, I could feel an uncomfortable smile creeping across my face. Damn it! Why do I have to smile and giggle when I'm uncomfortable?
"Mom!!!!! You are the worst liar!!"
That's it. He just crossed over The Bridge.
He and I went to his room and laid down side by side in his bed where I told him everything. By the end of it, I was crying and he had tears in his eyes. To say the truth broke his heart would be an understatement. With every question I answered, I could see him slipping further away from the childhood version of him.
We cried together and every few days since then he has asked another question about it all as he tries to fit this new information into his understanding of the world. While I am excited to have him take on some of the magic by helping keep Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all of their friends alive for his brother, I find that he and I are grieving.
Someone once told me that children are gifts we have for 18 years and then we have to set them free. That was two years ago and I realized then that I was already halfway through my "gift." I thought time was moving fast then but it was nothing compared to how quickly it is moving now.
Suddenly we are here, on the other side of The Bridge and I find myself looking back at the childhood side, more aware than ever how short The Bridge actually was for us and knowing that somehow the journey across The Bridge will be even shorter and quicker for my younger son. Now, more than ever, I want to freeze time and live in the moment, being thankful for each day I have with my children while they are still children.
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About Changing Perspectives
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!