Monday, December 7, 2009

the talk

Around these parts, we had only one little person who still believed. One little person that genuinely had stars in his eyes when he talked about the magic of Christmas morning. My other boys have known for a while, of course, but they have manfully and expertly maintained the facade for their little brother. My enjoyment of his childhood wonder has been especially bittersweet this season, as I know that it will come to an end all too soon; the passage of time and company of school friends would see to that.

I have always been quite adamant that I did not want my children to find out on the playground. I thought it was a form of lying to them, if I left them vulnerable to kids making fun of them for their ignorance due to my pretense. As soon as they started to express doubts, we sat them down and explained it to them as gently as possible. We told them they were now members of a secret club, and they had a great responsibility not to tell other children. For both older boys, this had happened well before they started kindergarten.

Today, Terzo came home a little upset. His teacher had them leave out paper shoes for St. Nicholas, and they were filled with a couple pieces of candy when they came in this morning. A few children in the class were quite vocal in their protestations that it was not St. Nicholas, but the teacher, that had put the candy there. He started to discuss the issue over dinner; we changed the subject until we could talk to him about it later. After a brief discussion -- and afterwards, I felt that we probably should have talked about it longer so I could wring my hands over the decision for a more extended period of time, with most likely the same outcome -- we decided that, especially given the personality of one particular child in the class, it was probably best if we said something now. My heart felt as if it was being shredded apart as I watched him struggle to process the information, which was completely and totally news to him.

It became painfully obvious that we told him too soon.

He is the typical third child, babied beyond belief by all of us. We love his speech mannerisms so we don't correct him. (Not all are inconsequential: he cannot distinguish the difference between "thirty" and "forty", because he pronounces them the same, and as a result still cannot count to 100.) We have let him slide with his protestations that he can't get his own clothes in the morning, can't put his shoes on by himself, can't operate the TV. But at what point are we allowing him to enjoy his childhood, or allowing him to remain in baby mode so the rest of us can enjoy the experience vicariously for just a little bit longer? The line seems so much blurrier for this one than it was for the other two.


This is the card that he wrote, with great difficulty by himself (because yes, he still doesn't know all his letters) while I spelled the words for him. He wanted to write a letter to Santa so he can mail it tomorrow. He's clearly working this through on his own terms, while I try not to feel quite so terrible, awful, horrendously incompetent as a parent.

1 comment:

  1. You are a wonderful parent! Trying to hold onto just one more season of innocence with your youngest boy! We have our share of "youngest and last child" issues around here and I for one don't care a lick when anyone tells me I "baby" my boy too much :0). he's 11 now and I know there are a few things I may do or allow simply because he is my last child (I am pretty sure on THAT one!). We let Josh speak his little kid talk for a long time and guess what? At 12 he is fine! Same with Zack. Your little guy will be off and running all to soon and Christmas, school days, talking, etc. will all move into the next realm of "growing up". there is nothing we can do to stop it---just cherish these days now! Just yesterday I had a sad moment when reflecting on the memories of reading out loud each night before bed. The kids simply out grew it! Boo Hoo! BUT, what we give our kids are memories and traditions that they can carry on with THEIR kids! They will have those awesome memories and warm fuzzies when they recollect their childhood. So, nope! I don't think you are an over bearing or ultra babying Mom!