Friday, January 05, 2007

Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Me

Abby with cousins Raffy, Gabby and Cody Cabrera during their Gameboy tournament on Christmas Day!

“It’s UNFAIR!” … whined my beloved brat last Christmas.

“Why did Santa give three to Raffy and I got only one? I asked for six!” … she continued with her heart-tugging oh-so-woeful expression complete with mouth that somehow managed to pout into unbelievable lengths!

Abby was referring to the single game cartridge for her Nintendo Gameboy that she “got” from Santa compared to her buddy Raffy Cabrera who got three.

Of course, Abby and Raffy agreed beforehand what they would ask for. Of course, one very cooperative mother encouraged Abby to write him letters so “Santa” would know what she wanted for Christmas.

Christmas came and that very cooperative mother wanted to kick herself in the head for perpetuating the Santa myth, or the Tooth Fairy for that matter!

I planted this seed and got so good at cultivating it Abby came to believe that she could ask for everything and anything under the sun.

One time, she even asked for a MICROSCOPE from the Tooth Fairy!!! For pete’s sake! That thing must cost ten grand! For a tooth? For a six-year old? Well, if it’s for education … and GRANTING that I had plenty of dough stashed somewhere … but I’m digressing.

So what could a poor mother who was neck deep in unpaid bills do to veer thoughts away from microscopes?

Resort to creative thinking, what else? I told her Tooth Fairy is as small as Tinkerbell!

“And how heavy is your school’s microscope?” Oh yeah! It was heavy alright!

“How then” I asked, “could a tiny creature such as the tooth fairy carry such a heavy present?”

“Oh yes!” she wholeheartedly agreed with me.

And while we were still at it, I went on improvising, like tell her to ask only for something that could be found in Dumaguete (so Tooth Fairy won’t have to travel far), or something that’s not expensive (or she’ll think you’re too greedy)!

How did I cope with the outburst last Christmas? I told her Santa must have made a mistake when he gave a box with only one cartridge instead of three … you see, he’s soooo busy … got gazillions of children to give presents to …and poor Santa, he’s soooo old already (thus forgetful!) … see his white beard?

I know … I know! Lying is bad and I’m setting a terrible example! Will she resent me when she finally learns the truth? I don’t know. What I know though is that my friend Chedette’s daughter, Ina, was terribly disappointed with her Mom when she caught her doing Tooth Fairy’s job!

What does this tell us? That children want their fairy tales and make-believe world? That we owe it to them to make them believe for as long as possible?

Despite my periodic head-kicking urges, I believe that this should be so. Every child deserves magic in his world.

When Abby was told by another child that Santa was not true ... that it’s the parents who actually give all those stuff ...

Abby is only 6 years old. She cannot lose her sense of wonder yet!!! I had to cook up another tale: “remember the song … Santa Claus is coming to town? That he’s making a list who’s naughty or nice? That’s because only nice children get presents from him. Maybe your friend ---- has been naughty and his parents knew that he won’t be getting any present from Santa. But they didn’t want him to be sad, so they had to get his present themselves and pretend it came from Santa … and got caught ... ”

I breathed a big sigh of relief when Abby swallowed the story hook, line and sinker.

Am I doing the right thing? I really don’t know. But I do know that Abby can only be a child once. She will get to enjoy the innocence of childhood only for so long. The realities of life will always be there, lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce at every chance.

So I’ll shield her while I still can and while she still believes everything I’d tell her.

As for her excessive expectations, I’ll just improvise along the way - like tell her Santa has gazillions of children to give presents to, and it would be unfair to the others if she’d ask for more than one!

And as for wanting to kick myself, I will always want to do that first, then think of a way to wriggle out of my predicament next!

Happy New Year everyone!

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