Thursday, December 24, 2009

Honest (Abe) Zach

Zach cares a lot about the truth. A lot. The other day, Luke's endless chatter at the breakfast table about Santa was driving Zach nuts. Zach asked me if he could please tell Luke the truth about Santa.

We have talked as a family about the fact that a North Pole dwelling Santa, flying reindeer, and a jolly big guy sliding down the chimney with a bag of gifts is not true, but we do not go so far as to correct the kids if they should mention Santa. Luke has been told that he's just a guy in costume and a fun story that parents tell, but he chooses to openly embrace the idea of Santa Claus. Telling him otherwise - correcting him - would only serve to cause an argument and upset him. So, we let it go.

Zach has been so good about letting Santa discussions happen with a wink and a smile. He's known the truth for three years and hadn't breathed a word of it to another child... until yesterday!

We stopped by our friends' house for a few minutes. Zach's little friend and her cousin were talking to Zach about their plans for Christmas. The cousin said that she'd already had Christmas at her house in Iowa, but that her grandparents would have more gifts for her when she got to their house. And... that Santa would bring her gifts to her grandparents'. It was then that Zach inexplicably leaned over to his little friend and whispered in her five year old ear, "Santa isn't real."

Neither of the girls said a word about it while we were there - Zach did. As we were on their porch saying goodbye Zach said, "I did something that I need to tell you about, but you're going to be very upset." He started to cry and asked me to lean over so he could whisper it in my ear. After he whispered it to me, I asked him to tell his friend's mommy what he'd done. He just cried harder, so I told her. She took it amazingly well, either keeping a good poker face or genuinely not upset - I'm not sure which.

In that moment, I didn't know if we'd made a wise or very bad decision in telling the truth about Santa. I stand firm in my conviction that the truth is always best, but it is obviously tricky for a child to keep the truth to himself when everyone around him is constantly talking about Santa.

I deeply appreciate and admire Zach's honesty. He (nearly always) has a good mix of honesty, sensitivity to others' feelings, self-control, and discretion. He chooses to abide in the truth, while not pressuring or judging others. I think that's amazing. I look forward to watching him grow up... I think he will be a wonderfully honorable man.

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