Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ~ The Wizard of Oz
I was hanging clothes in Katie’s closet last night as she crawled into bed. She sat watching me, wide-eyed, drinking me in as she always does.
With a deep breath she said, “Mama, I feel like you’re not always completely honest with me.”
OK. There is no possibility that this can be a good start to a conversation -any conversation. I stopped in my tracks and looked at her, concerned.
“What do you mean, honey?’
“Well, about Santa Claus. I don’t feel like you’re completely honest with me. Is he real?”
I had to turn away. I hid my smirk in the row of dresses in her closet, pretending to straighten a little shift on its hanger.
I did my best to compose myself and walked over to the side of her bed.
“The magic of Santa Claus is real, sweet love.”
I let that hang in the air, not saying anything else. I thought that the fewer words I used the less chance I’d have to get myself into real trouble. I could see that my little Clarence Darrow was preparing her cross examination.
“Ok, but is Santa himself real or not?” she asked, the picture of innocence.
I couldn’t meet her eyes. I fussed with the blanket at the end of her bed.
“That’s up to you, honey.”
I could feel her little eyes burning right through me.
“What does that mean, Mama? How could it be up to me?”
Suddenly I was five years old, sitting in the car between my parents as we drove down a tree lined street in my hometown. Those were the days before car seats, of course. I was perched between their seats, glaring accusingly at each of them in turn. I was frustrated beyond belief. Neither would give me an answer. “Either Santa’s real or he’s not. Why does it matter what I think about it? I’m just asking if he’s real or he’s not. Just tell me.”
It was all I could do not to smile at history’s repetition.
“Well, baby, if you believe in Santa, then the magic is real. But you have to believe. So it’s up to you.”
The wheels turned. At the speed of light, I watched her process my words. In a flash, she had her answer.
“I believe, Mama.”
“Well then, darlin, he’s real.”
As she smiled at me I was struck by a thought.
Someday she will understand that completely honest is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.