The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .) : a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?
Through out history, humans have created explanations for things they didn’t understand.
The Ancient Greeks had the Titans and the gods of mythology. Lightning? It is Zeus and his master bolt. The sun tracking through the sky? Ain’t nothin’ but Helios draggin’ his chariot of fire. Spiders? That’s what the stupid Arache gets for challenging Athena.
Every known ancient group of people have their explanations for things they couldn’t understand. And you know what? They liked it like that.
Children are creatures of fantasy. It is how they live their lives. They create their own fantasies. Like imaginary friends. For Monkey #3, The Girl Child, it was Gabriella from High School Musical. Not the actress, Vanessa Hudgens. The CHARACTER Gabriella. She wanted Gabriella to come over for dinner and would stand at the window looking for her. And then ask when she was coming. I would explain to her that Gabriella had plans with Chad (again, not with Zack Efron…) and couldn’t make it. That she accepted. She would then walk away from the window and go on with her life.
I could have been honest with her. I could have told her that she was just IMAGINING that Gabriella was playing with her, but she wouldn’t have believed me. To her, Gabriella was real. And do you know why? Because my little monkey could see her whenever she wanted. Simply by turning on the TV.
The other fantasies of childhood are the same way. It helps their minds wrap around things. Having a tooth fall out of your head is a traumatic experience. What was once attached to them has now become UNattached! And with BLOOD! If knowing that when they awake there will be a couple of bucks tucked up under their pillow helps them with the process, what does it hurt?
As for Santa, “he” becomes the personification of love and the excitement of the season. I find it interesting how many cultures have a “character” that gives presents to children. In Mexico, it is the baby Jesus in some regions, The Wise Men in others. Throughout Western Europe, there are Santa Claus figures. Pere Noel. The Kristkind. Saint Nicholas. Saint Basil. And they had these “fantasies” well before we did here in America. Parents have been lying to their children about these figures for centuries! Yet, somehow these generations of children survived finding out “the truth.” And as generations of parents have relished the opportunity to share these traditions with their own children. It is a part of the culture. It is a part of our shared experiences.
As a mother, I have tried very hard to make the season about so much more than the fantasies. I do not use that little snitching spy, The Elf on the Shelf, as a scare tactic to make sure the monkeys are behaving themselves. I have never told them I will call Santa and tell him not to come if they do not stop screaming at each other. Kids see right through that! They know that if mom tells them that if they continue fighting, they will be put on the naughty list and Santa will not come, that she is LYING! They know that Santa will still leave them things. Because as parents we would NEVER not leave anything for our children. It would spoil the season for them as much as it would for us. I insist that their lists to Santa are not greedy. They are not allowed to ask for everything on the planet. Besides, the lists also become MY shopping lists (the smart Mommy Monkey always makes sure she makes a copy). And I always make sure The Monkeys give back, by choosing gifts to take to church to be distributed to the families that come to our food pantry. I am trying to teach them that the season is so much more than just getting more stuff. It is about love.
Monkey #1 has been let in on the little secret. And he loves nothing more than helping set things up for his brother and sister. He has slipped money under their pillows, helped decorate the “special” eggs the Easter Bunny leaves, and filled stockings. For him, it is a way of expressing his love for his siblings. It is amazing to see.
Why would I want to take that away from him?