Running Free

Running Free

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Magical Moment

My ten year-old son asked me a question on the way to swim practice the other day.

“Mom, are you Santa?”

I can’t say I was prepared for the questions. It took me by surprise. It was rather random given that we had been talking about an upcoming social studies test less than thirty seconds earlier.
I was driving so my hands had to stay on the wheel and my eyes had to remain on the road. My stomach lurched and there was a feeling of cold air rushing through my insides despite the balmy southern California breeze flowing in from the open window.

“Why do you ask honey?” I said in what I hoped was a smooth and steady voice.

“I don’t know. I just want to know. Are you Santa?”

We were approaching a red light so I began the crawl toward the light as cars frantically scrambled to squeak through the yellow light. Anything to save a second of waiting. With my foot planted safely on the brake I looked around and noticed the metal boxes surrounding me on all sides - some shiny, some dented, each a testament to its owner and his or her cachet of the California driving experience. I looked over at my son. His eyes big and brown, the color of hot chocolate with clotted cream were staring at me hard.

“I am Santa,” I whispered. “But I still believe in him and in the magic he holds,” I added.
My son looked at me a moment longer and slowly turned to look out the window. He nodded his mop of sandy hair. His shoulders sturdy and already molded from two hours of swim looked strong and solid.

The light turned green and I accelerated.

I had dreaded this moment for years. My husband had been telling me for the last year to tell him the truth. But he was so young I would reply. Let him believe and hold on to the magic for as long as possible.

“You don’t want him to be the laughing stock of his school when all the other kids are telling each other their parents are Santa and our son is saying there is a Santa Claus,” he would caution.

My pat response had always been “But I still believe in Santa. Santa lives in my heart.”
And my husband inevitably would roll his eyes and plop a kiss of resignation on my cheek. “Yes dear,” he would say.

But this time, it was different. Social norms of school had begun to creep into my little boy’s world. And rather than foster something that would be potentially be an act of betrayal I opted to tell him the truth. The truth as I know it. The truth as I see it.

“You know honey, the spirit of Christmas is magical. And parents want to share and give this magic to their children. Holding onto the magical moment of the season is something that is a real treasure. And I don’t want you lose that. It is kind of like the last bit of childhood innocence. I still believe in Santa- and the magic of what he stands for – and just look how old I am.”

My son laughed and said, “You’re not that old mom,” and reached over and patted my arm.
He is an old soul in so many ways. But still, I harbor dreams of him having a sense of wonder and amazement at all the beauty that the world can and does hold. I keep returning to Sesame Street and the wonders of this show and how truly we are blessed with the little things.
If and when we- me- take the time to stop and look.

So now my son knows that I am Santa- and by extension my husband. And as painful as I thought this moment would be it actually wasn’t the heart breaking gut wrenching event that I had been dreading.
There was a sense of mutual respect that I could feel. As if by telling my son the truth, by not lying, by not trying to protect and swaddle him - that I had somehow given him a new dimension of reality. That life sometimes is colored in a good way by those who love us and want only the best for us.

I made it through the next set of lights – miraculously they all had been green.

“Thanks Mom,” my son said. “For telling me the truth. You don’t have to worry, I won’t tell any of the other kids at school. And I still believe in the magic of Christmas. After all, it is Jesus’ birthday and that is the really special part anyway.”

We had reached the swimming pool and as he gathered his swim gear he leaned over and gave me a kiss.

“I love you,” he said waving as he closed the car door and skipped off for his two hour practice.

That was a magical moment and for that moment, I am grateful.


cigana said...

I guess, you just need to look back at your own childhood and see how did or did not affect you ....I think you got your heart in the right place. ///-_-\\\

camerone said...

Es la verdad mi amiga