We were at the mall and he was asking me to buy him something. I told him I will check if the budget will allow it. He then said it does not matter, he will just ask Santa to give it to him this Christmas.
I lightly chuckled and told him Santa does not exist, that he was a character made popular by people to so that they would have a cute symbolism for consumerism. My son stomped his foot and told me that Santa did exist and that he would get him the toy he wanted for Christmas. I was just about to issue a retort when Aaron reminded me that I was arguing with a preschooler and that he was probably too young for my lessons on reality. I told Aaron if they are old enough to ask or make assumptions, then they are old enough to know.
Turns out my tyke did not just get my eyes, he also got my stubbornness. In no uncertain terms he told me that whatever words I use, he still chooses to believe in Santa. I was fuming on the ride back home. My dislike for Santa comes from my belief in the principle of giving credit where credit is due. It just did not seem fair to me that a fictional figure gets all the gratitude when in fact it was the parents’ hard-earned money that bought the gift. But then I look at my son and his furrowed eyebrows and I see we were seeing Santa Claus from two very different perspectives. Me as the mother whose wallet would be opening up for his gift of choice and he as the kid who wanted to believe in something, anything. I could not believe how petty I was being. I guess I was not as tolerant of other’s people beliefs as I thought I was. Briefly, I had a flashback of my five year old self insisting to my mother that my lesbian aunt was indeed a man. Exasperated as she was, my mother kept explaining that biologically my Aunt Bobot was born a woman but had the “heart” of a man. I was too young to comprehend it and at that time, the simplest explanation appealed to me. Mama had all the time in the world to argue with me but she told me “Fine, if that is what you want to believe right now.”
I asked Josh one last time, “Gusto mo talagang maniwala kay Santa?” (“Do you really want to believe in Santa?”) and he nodded. I kissed the top of his head and decided to let the argument go. Maybe when he is a little bit older, I might open the topic for discussion again – that is, if he has not figured out the truth for himself. For now though, I will give him this. After all, this is just a preview of the things to come when he becomes a teenager and begins to form his own set of beliefs. There will be times I would have to step back and let him think for himself. So long as he does not choose to run off with a cult or harbor hatred for those who believe in other things, I should be at peace with his decisions.
Yes Joshua, there is a Santa Claus. A tooth fairy even. They can be married to each other if you want to. And somewhere in between the lair of the Sandman and the land of Oz lives a wizard who just cast a spell on your rigid mother so that she would be more tolerant and patient with her little prince.