Friday, August 5, 2011

The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy Walked Into a Bar...

Yea, this would likely be a pretty funny joke if it existed. Perhaps it does, somewhere out there.

Nonetheless, whether or not it exists doesn't detract from the fact that these entities - ones that millions of Western children hold dear - might very well be....well....not exactly real.

We may all seem to feel that as parents, we're in on the secret, but are we, really? Who's having the last laugh when it comes to "things that go bump in the night?" These things - within the same realm as the "Boogie Monster" and the "Monster that Lives [in the closet, under the bed, in the basement - insert location here]" provide the basis for not only many childhood fantasies and fears but...hold onto your hats...finances as well.

Image courtesy of
Let's face it - parenthood - as I've said on many occasions - is largely comprised of bribery, negotiations and threats. Sometimes money is involved. So what, you ask? Well, not only are the kids having the last laugh on us in many instances, but they may very well be profiting from our attempts at fantasy as well.

Case in point: My seven-year-old advised me that she had a total of over $50 smackeroos saved up in her room (this consists of loose change and five-dollar bills that she received). Yes, she does get an allowance, but much of that money came from "The Tooth Fairy."

It's late summer and we're still plowing through Easter chocolates.

There are a number of yet-unopened and never played with toys that "Santa Claus" delivered.

What I'm trying to say that is that there comes a time where we as parents, and our kids are both in on the ruse, and it then becomes a game of "who blinked." You moms and dads out there who are parenting older kids know exactly what I mean. There is that time that seems to creep up on us all as parents when you as the parent know that your child doesn't believe the story, and your child doesn't believe it either. The problem? Neither one of you wants to say "uncle." Doing so, from your point of view, would be an admission that your little baby boy/girl isn't so little any more, and that a whole portion of that sweet childhood existence will be gone forever once you reveal the truth, not to mention that you'd be revealed to have been lying to your precious little one all this time. From the child's point of view, the hidden chocolate eggs and large-sized bunnies, the additional gifts left under the Christmas tree from Santa and his Elves, and the few bucks (inflation) that the Tooth Fairy leaves every time a molar or canine tooth dislodges will henceforth become a distant memory. 

Both parties have a vested interest in perpetuating the fantasy, sure. But at what cost, and to what end?

How healthy is it really, to set up these characters in the minds of our children, only to tear them down again years later. More importantly, do we really want our kids to think: "Mommy/Daddy was LYING to me all these years?"

I survived this "trauma," as did many of my friends and relatives. And, being the traditionalist that I am, I felt compelled to pass along this questionable practice to my children, when I had them. I advised of and supported details of the Tooth Fairy's modus operandi, Santa Claus' travel schedule on Christmas Eve and the Easter Bunny's penchant for hiding eggs in people's homes. My kids fell for my stories hook line and sinker. So why do I feel somewhat guilty? And why, now that my seven-year-old is on the verge of not believing (I don't really think she's on the verge - she may have abandoned belief a few months back), I am at once relieved and saddened? And when do I "blink?" Who will say "Uncle" first in this scenario? Her or me (or her dad)?

There are three questions regarding this topic that I really need answered:
  1. Should we be perpetuating these fantasies for our kids at all, and if so, for how long? How old should the child be before the jig is up and our ruse is revealed? 
  2. What would happen if we removed these cultural benchmarks? Millions of kids around the world don't believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny and they seem to be doing fine. Could we in the Western world do the same?
  3. The profitability of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy combined may contribute to a longer "belief period" on the part of the kids. Is this really a good idea?
According to one very eloquent writer many years ago, Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus, apparently. Okay, but what about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy?

What do you think? Are these childhood characters something that we should continue to portray for our kids, or should we call it a day and tell them the truth about The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus?


I'm Nikki. said...[Reply]

I've been thinking about this lately because I'm at a loss about what to do... should I let them ask about it or should I tell them outright? I can't wait to see if any other readers give advice in the form of comments!

Samantha said...[Reply]

@I'm Nikki.
Nikki - Thanks for asking! I'm at a loss as well...with my older daughter, I let it ride in a manner of speaking and recall some crying and accusations of lying. This time around, not sure what is the best thing to do. Let's see what others say!

Holly Ann said...[Reply]

My husband and I decided not to treat these characters as any more real than other fictional characters to our children. That said, I do not pass negative judgement upon those parents who choose to do so. I think it's a family decision and you need to gauge what is best for your family and life circumstances. If you're at all interested in knowing more about why we opted out, feel free to email me.

Best of luck in making your decision on this one. :)

[email protected]

Samantha said...[Reply]

@Holly Ann Hi Holly,
Thanks for your feedback and I'm definitely intrigued! I'll email you offline.

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...[Reply]

The real question is, will they really be heartbroken that these don't exist or laugh it off and look forward to playing the same "joke" on thier kids?

Samantha said...[Reply]

@Ajlounyinjurylaw More often than not, the stories are perpetuated and a new generation of kids are part of the facade...

Melanie said...[Reply]

I think it's fun for kids to have these characters. I'm not sure, but I think it helps build on their open imaginations. If only adults could be as open as children to believing in things we cannot see...

Samantha said...[Reply]

Very true, Mel. The issue is when the proverbial cat gets let out of the bag and mom and dad are left with some "splainin' to well as egg on their faces, in many instances. That said, we all survived and many of us are passing on the traditions...questionable or not!

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