Santa is a dicey conversation in my house these days. Ethan asks a lot of questions and now the whole Santa story has more holes in it than cheap Swiss cheese. We have discussions about the authenticity of Santas at malls and Chick-Fil-A's ("by the beard I say 'yes' but by the face I say 'no.'") and those of the Salvation Army variety. Complex questions. "Does anyone give Santa presents? Like something for his house?"
It all started two years ago when he was nearly three. His father bought a Santa suit. On Christmas eve, he disappeared into the garage and suddenly reappeared at the front door as jolly St. Nick. He looked really, really good. Ethan sat on the couch in the corner and barely spoke a word. If his stare was a laser beam, Derek would have been dead. Ethan never called him out, but you could see the wheels in his head turning at the speed of light.
Fast forward one year later to last year. I told Derek he had to be in and out in 45 seconds. I didn't think we had much more than that before Ethan figured it out. He sat on the same couch in the corner and stared. Then he asked where his father was. I gave Derek the high sign that we were about to be busted and he was gone. We never mentioned it again.
So when the holidays started to roll around, I wondered when it would start. It didn't take long. It was the day of our scooter ride and the ride was a long one. The boys began talking about Christmas.
What are you going to ask Santa for Christmas?
I want a spark scooter.
Really? Are you sure? You have a scooter.
But I don't have a scooter that shoots sparks.
Listen, I don't think Santa is going to bring you a spark scooter.
It's too expensive. And I read up on it. It only works for like a day and then all you have is a scooter, which is what you already have.
I really want that scooter, Mom.
Ethan, it is too expensive. Santa can't bring you one this year.
But Santa can pay for it. He's got a lot of money.
That's not how it works. Santa doesn't pay for the presents.
Santa doesn't pay for the presents?
How about the elves?
The funny thing about the slippery slope of lying? It's a slippery slope.
The elves are strictly assembly. They have no money.
So who pays for the presents?
Parents. That's why some kids get more than other kids.
So parents buy the presents and kids whose parents have more money get more presents.
Oh. And we don't have a lot of money.
Not this year, buddy.
Bless his pure heart, he nodded as if this all made sense. He wasn't upset.
And some kids don't get any presents because their parents don't have any money.
No. Isn't that sad?
It is sad. So parents pay.
They pay for the materials. The elves put it together. Santa is in charge.
Yes? (sensing danger ahead)
Parents pay for the materials?
Yes. (because I don't know when to stop).
MOM!! I 've got it! We can take THIS scooter (and he held up his $2 yard sale scooter). We can give Santa THIS!!! He can use this (pointing to the handles) and this (pointing to the base) and this (to the wheels). MOM!!! He can use all THESE materials and then you can just give him the money for the spark box on the bottom. I don't think it cost that much. Does it cost too much?
And with that, my heart broke. My heart broke because he wasn't getting that scooter, because there is no way we are going to make it until December 26 without him figuring it out and because I felt like a total loser for lying to a four-year-old who is sharp as a tack.
Take all the Santa out of it and he's just a kid that is going to be luckier than some to get something for Christmas and not as lucky as others who will get everything on their list. Maybe I'm just wasting time trying to keep him from figuring it out. What do you think?