My husband recently informed me my nine year old son no longer believes in Santa. My ten year old with autism still believes. He told me he wants an English policeman costume for Christmas. When I told him that might hard for me to find, he said, don’t worry because Santa can make anything. He said Santa would make it because he doesn’t really believe in elves anymore. I said, so just Santa? He said, well Mrs. Clause too. Obviously. It would be lonely at that cold North Pole without someone to come home to.
My husband and my ex-husband as well don’t really agree with the Santa thing. You shouldn’t lie to your kids, they say. How could they ever trust you once they find out the truth. You lied, you lied! All those years, all those lies! I’ve gotta admit, when they say that my first thought is just, WTF? Are you serious? Then I calm down and formulate a more helpful defense. It’s a little moment of magic we give them for a few years. It’s what childhood is supposed to be. They have the rest of their lives to come to terms with reality. Give them a little piece of magic before the, lets be honest, rather brutal process of growing up begins. They will come across so many lies in their lives told for unkind ends. If we can tell a few to make the brief flash of true childhood a little more magical, I say, do it. I say, it’s not fair for us to impose the world as we see it on them.
There is a truth to Santa. He may not be a man, but he’s the personification of all we feel and hope for them. He is what childhood is. And I hope that’s what we want for them.
I’ve come to realize that protecting childhood is more important to me than almost anything in this world. I don’t mean spoiling kids, I don’t mean coddling them. I mean keeping them safe, giving them room to be themselves, fostering their confidence. When they are young, giving them a time of sweet oblivion from the way of the world. As they get older, leading them into the world as gently and meaningfully as we can. Cradling the fragility of what is true about that childhood innocence intact into the fallen world so they can thrive despite it all and hopefully do some good along the way.
As important as all of this is to me, there is an accompanying … frustration. Yes, we’ll say frustration. We’ll be diplomatic. A frustration with adults who derail this in the less obvious ways. Obviously, there are those who deny kids safety, whether it be sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual. There are those who are not strong enough to let them be themselves. Those who allow their own wounds to keep them from letting them know how wonderfully made they truly are. And frustration is not the word I use for these adults. They are what’s wrong with this world. They are original sin.
The ones I am frustrated with are not the wounded, the evil, the weak. They’re the ones who never really became adults themselves. The ones who do not know the evil this world holds, the suffering, the injustice, the unfairness. Does that sound mean? Bitter? Pessimistic? If so, you may be one of these adults yourself. Before you get all defensive, let’s look at the facts:
1 in 4 girls will be sexually molested in some way
1 in 3 women will be sexually victimized in some way in her life
1 in 4 women will be raped in her lifetime (rape being specifically vaginal or anal penetration)
1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested in some way
That’s in the U.S.
22,000 children die from poverty a day worldwide
28% of children in developing countries are underweight or growth stunted
So, yes, the obliviously priveleged adults of this world frustrate me. They’re safe and warm in their cocoons and the children of the world are outside left on their own. They ignore the safety so many children are denied. They cannot prepare any of the children to make that transition from the innocence of early childhood to the world of trouble and sin we live in. They need to get their asses out here and get to work.
There is a lot of work to do.
I am, above all, a mama lion. For my children and for all the others. Children need milk and play, to learn to fend. They also need a mama willing to rip out the intestines of those who threaten.
Man up, people. Be the mamas they need.