This past Christmas I was at a crossroads with Santa. I also felt myself in a conundrum with wanting Lucas to believe for another year, but wanting to tell Kayla the truth. Lucas was highly skeptical so I knew it wouldn't last much longer. I blogged about him coming to terms with it, and wanted to include what I was going through with Kayla, but that blog post was already long enough.
Kayla is thirteen and in the 7th grade and hasn't questioned the story of Santa. She took the story at face value - Santa brings gifts and that was that. I don't remember when I found out the truth, or how old I was. I'm sure I didn't still believe when I was thirteen and I doubt Kayla's classmates still believe.
So one day, several weeks before Christmas, Kayla was talking about Santa and I just casually said, "Kayla, Santa's not real, ok?"
Kayla, "Santa is real."
Me, "Well you know all the Santas that you see at parties or parades? Those aren't real Santas, they are just people dressed up in costumes."
She replied back, "He's real at Christmas you know." I had to laugh at that.
The next time we talked about it she said, "Santa's fake" and I confirmed, yes, Santa is fake. He's not real. I wasn't sure if she really understood what I was saying or if she was only referring to the Santa at the Christmas parties.
Then there was the time Lucas was asking about Santa, again, and Kayla yelled out, "Santa's fake! Right mom?" oops!
Up until Christmas she seemed to just accept the "Santa's fake" line, but on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day she was back to insisting that Santa was real.
There is a certain kind of magical element to Christmas when you have young kids who believe in Santa, and it's fun to see their surprise and wonderment at receiving gifts they asked Santa for, but as kids grow up that belief eventually fades away and I'm not interested in keeping Kayla in a 'younger' mindset.
I'm not going to continue that ruse with Kayla just because she has Down syndrome.
I want Kayla to be taken seriously by her peers, potential employers, and by her community. If she is 25 years old and still believes in Santa, will they take her seriously? Will they presume her competent? Or will they think she is less capable? Will they continue to treat her younger than she is? I am not going to play along, or encourage my adult child, to believe in Santa.
I'm not saying there is a right or wrong way on how to handle this, only this is how I feel and plan to parent my child.
People already have a tendency to treat her younger than she is.
How many parents have a typical 13 year old daughter who, when leaving a medical office, are offered a sticker?
How many parents have a typical 13 year old daughter who, when left in the exam room the nurse, or assistant, asks, "Would she like to watch Peppa Pig?"
No, she is not going to watch Peppa Pig - she's thirteen, not three. I realize she might not look like she's thirteen, but she's obviously not a toddler.
Yes plenty of older children/younger teens watch cartoons, but there is a difference between cartoons and preschool programming.
Yes I had a sticker book, two actually, when I was a kid. I still had those books when I was thirteen. I don't think I was still collecting/trading stickers at that age though - or if I was it was not on a regular basis and it wasn't with stickers from doctor's offices (which are, usually, more of the preschool character variety.)
Kayla is going to believe what she believes and I can't change it, or force her to not believe in Santa, but I won't encourage it and I won't continue to tell her Santa is real.