Yeah, that doesn’t work when your child is smart as a whip, turns six, and begins to ask difficult questions. Gone are the simple ones about why he’s called Santa or what reindeer eat; now it’s all about how he gets it done in one night, how the reindeer fly, why do the reindeer eat glitter anyway (it’s one of the key ingredients in our reindeer food) how Santa knows if she’s been good or bad (that’s one myth that I didn’t work on my own; other people felt the liberty to tell my daughter about the naughty list, which she then became obsessed with, to my horror. We don’t do external motivation in this house if we can help it), and so many more questions, with the hardest one being the simple, “Is Santa real or not?”
Luckily for me, as an unschooler I can often answer with the same question I answer her with a hundred times a day: “What do you think?” She’s used to this, so it doesn’t sound suspicious. She gives it some thought and decides that Santa is real—again—but I am thinking that she will soon decide he is not. And that’s okay with me. When she does, I will gently remind her that to us, Santa simply means the spirit of the season, and giving to those who need it. I’ll explain it’s a little like religion, how people like to believe in things that comfort them and make them feel good. I will also remind her to never reveal this “secret” to other children, as it is their right to believe as long as they want to believe. In fact, I will tell her that it’s her own right as well, and she can believe as long as she wants, too.
This “What do you think?” line isn’t going to work with many other kids, though! How do you answer such a question? Do you wait until a child is a certain age—or until they catch you with the presents in the garage?