How about we talk about something a bit more hopeful and upbeat! I think that after Friday's events in the US we could use some whimsy.
My son is 11 1/2 and my daughter just turned 10. They have an absolutely unshakable belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. It's actually to the point where I'm not sure if even we as parents can convince them otherwise! Just this week my wife decided to "test the waters" and told them that it was really her and me who bought the presents. The kids didn't believe her! They said that the presents from Santa were too expensive for us to be able to buy, so they must come from him.
My wife and I really believe in fostering imagination and wonder in our children and each other. With all of the darkness that can be in the world we want to be able to see corners of light and brightness. We don't think that belief in these things contradict our religious beliefs and instead add a more magical and supernatural aspect to the world than we see in the news and media. We have actively continued to talk about Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and others. And the kids don't know that we scrimp and save for the Christmas presents as well as look for sales, specials, and other good deals. We really don't have much extra money, but we want to spoil our kids a little and save for that goal.
A couple of months ago our daughter wrote a letter to the tooth fairy that I responded to. That started a series of written exchanges between our kids and the tooth fairy which firmed their belief. Similar things have happened with Santa and Jul Tomte (the Swedish version of Father Christmas/Santa). A couple of years ago the kids tried to leave a video camera out to tape Santa to prove to their friends that he existed. Thankfully there was an auto shutoff so that plan didn't work. Last year our daughter literally cried when once again we were out of the house when Jul Tomte came to visit. This year we have enlisted a friend of ours to come and play the part.
This is actually becoming a bit of a problem for us as parents! As our kids are getting older we are struggling to find ways to deal with their increasing perception, intelligence, and persistence. It's getting harder to find ways to get around their attempts to discover and meet these mythological beings. And the kids are convinced that Santa can get anything, no matter the cost, so their wish list gets more advanced and expensive.
For us it's a bit of a catch-22. We know that at some point the truth will come out and at their age may be sooner rather than later. Heck, it would be a lot easier for us in many ways if they knew. At the same time we really enjoy a bit of magic and charm in our kids lives. They will have plenty of time to learn about the harsh realities of life. We want to give them magical memories like I had. We want them to have a childhood and not grow up too fast.
In fact, I think this world could use a little magic, whimsy, and fun. There is violence, tragedy, sadness, and hardship all around us. There are so many reasons not to smile or laugh. If people could see the joy in the world, especially in the joy of things we can't directly see, there would be more happiness. And if more people were happy, there would be less strife and anger. A bit simplistic? Perhaps. But not all problems need a complicated answer.
One day soon our kids will learn the truth. But not yet.