Monthly Archives: December 2013

Can I handle the truth out there?

I have had some discussions with parents about honesty.  I know at least two sets of parents who adamantly insist that they never lie to their children.  They may hold back some of the truth (and some might call that a lie of omission) but they never willfully tell their kids a fib, and that includes Santa, my favorite childhood fiction.

To be clear, LW and I do not lie to the boy in some off hand manner.  He is getting the hang of leg pulling, knowing that maybe I do not actually have first hand knowledge of the War of the Roses.  But jesting I do not count in the same world as lying.  But there is something that I treasure, perhaps it is selfish, in keeping the boy believing in Santa Claus. 

The world is a crazy place, and frequently truth is stranger than fiction, and harder to explain.  I try to be frank and open with the boy when he asks a question (unless, as stated before, I am making some far fetched claim to help improve his sense of humor).  Children have the world crashing in on them more and more rapidly what with the easily accessible and constant information.  As a shield against this imminent loss of innocence, I give him Santa Claus, a benevolent elf.

I have other reasons for pushing the fiction.  The Boy is fact obsessed.  A book on human anatomy holds more interest for him than the works of C.S. Lewis.  Watching the movie FROZEN, while he did enjoy it in general, there were  times he was noticeably frustrated at things depicted on screen which he pointed out were impossible.

There is an innocence in fiction, and fiction can be seen as lies.  Soon enough, he will know (or admit to already knowing) that Santa Claus as an actual person is a fib.  But education is more than just science, math and empirical evidence.  It is also art and literature and beauty that is inexplicable.  And if I can bring the Boy into my fantasy world, even just a little, I will consider it time well spent.


History and fiction meet


Exploration continues


Crisis at Christmas

There is a pall hanging over the house because of the Christmas season.  Something is amiss here in our little hamlet I call home, and the dread attacks me every wacky waking moment.  The Boy seems unperturbed and LW doesn’t seem to notice it, but to me, it is a very real crisis of faith.

I do not know if The Boy believes in Santa or not.

This is not a subject which is easy to broach.  One can’t exactly ask The Boy, “Do you still believe that there is a fat German man who puts gifts under the pagan symbol for the solstice in a three month removed celebration of the birth of the Christian saviour which has now become an orgy of consumerism?”  Or if one can, I am not the one who can.

We’re not very religious.  I try to give The Boy a basic foundation of religion, focusing on the overarching themes of the Abrahamic religions (Don’t be a jerk to each other).  I also touch a little on some on the Eastern Religions and their overarching themes.  (Don’t be a jerk to each other).  So the religion of Christmas is not a priority.

Instead, we have focused on the joy of the season, the giving and yes, the getting.  But due to The Boy’s distaste for writing, for the past two years, he has not written a letter to Santa for a couple of years now.  The other day, shopping for a friend’s birthday, I had asked him how Santa would know what to bring him.  He smiled impishly and said “I’m pretty sure he can hear me,”.

Wait!  Does that mean he thinks that I am Santa?  Or does he believe that Santa is an NSA operative?  Or does he still have that sense of magic and wonder.

A friend of mine wrote a blog post about downsizing their Christmas.  (Read all of Bethany’s Bad Parenting Moments at:  Downsizing for The Boy has rarely been a problem when it comes to the boy.  His requests tend to the minor.  A game, a book, some legos, occasionally a toy that is in high demand that will be pulled out of the box, examined, and then left into the clutter of the room, something to be passed off at a toy swap somewhere down the line.

But not believing in Santa strikes me to the core.  Okay, personally, I admit, there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy is in question and I really wonder about the mythical “Congress” I hear talk of which is supposed to help the country.  But I do (cue corny music) believe in magic.  Maybe not the Abracadabra, Harry Potter or Prydain magic, but in the magic of people surprising us, the wonder of the world, the amazement that is in everyday life.  And for me, all of that started with Santa.

My son is pragmatist and a realist.  He tends away from the pure fiction books, favoring either historical or educational fiction or just straight up fact.  But Daddy lives in a fantasy world, and as long as possible, I am going to keep pulling him back into my fantasy, no matter how hard I have to work to prove that yes, there really is a Santa Claus.

Last Year still hopeful

Taking care of her boys

Taking care of her boys

I still believe I still believe

Line? What line?

This morning, I asked the boy what he wanted to learn today.  “Science, music and PE” he responded.  Fair enough.  These are all real things that we have been working on.  Music is straight forward as he is preparing for a band concert next week.  PE will be taken care of tonight through his normal karate class (Dad’s recovering from a cold, so there wasn’t going to be any active physical exertion on my part).  So what kind of science do you want to learn about.  “I want to learn about erosion”.  This is the fun of the free range homeschooling approach. 

As we were down at the river talking about what causes erosion and the differences that and decomposition, I started to think about what we had learned over the past weeks.  A trip to Gettysburg gave us a chance to talk about the Civil War.  A Facebook post by a friend had us looking into what happens when you shoot a couple million volts into an acrylic block (very cool lightning sculpture).  With the Thanksgiving turkey still lingering on our taste buds, we of course talked about that, it’s history, current and individual meanings and how harvest festivals figure into other cultures.  We have talked about dialects, Tchaikovsky our favorite animals and what makes beer.


The Vermont monument at Gettysburg


Sunset over Gettysburg


Exploring the Effects of Erosion

I recognize we are walking a winding road of education.  Our path meanders from one thing to another based on what interests us, what catches our eye.  This is not the straight line of learning that I had in school, but is sure a lot more fun.