Fact vs. Fiction

It seems inevitable that the Santa conversation will need to happen sooner, as opposed to later.  Matt and I are trying very hard to get Brendan through this Christmas still believing in the big guy, but as I said in one of my previous posts we won’t come up with an elaborate tale to keep him believing if he comes out and says he thinks it isn’t real.

Yesterday morning was another testiment to Brendan’s critical thinking skills.  As we drove to school, Brendan started talking all about Santa’s magic and how he uses it to get all over the world in a single night, and how he knows to give each child the presents they want and never to forget who’s who.  I just smiled to myself as I listened to him ramble on because this conversation was so very different than the others we’ve had recently regarding Santa where he seems just on the brink of realizing the truth of it all.

All was going well until we pulled into the school parking lot.  As we were waiting our turn in the drop off lane, Brendan grew very quiet.  Then out of nowhere (so it seemed) he said, “But wait…magic isn’t real”  I asked him to explain what he meant, and he continued, “You said Santa uses magic, but when we read Harry Potter you tell me that it’s fiction and that magic isn’t real.  So how can Santa use magic to get everyone their presents if there’s no such thing as magic?”  Lucky for me, it was our turn in line at that point, so he got out of the car and left for school without resolving the conversation and had forgotten about it by the time I picked him up that afternoon.

I know Brendan’s been questioning the whole Santa thing for a few weeks now, but I wonder if our reading the Harry Potter series might actually bring this to fruition that much sooner.  I’ve gotten a lot of criticism about introducing Mr. Potter to Brendan at such a young age, but as I’ve stated before I’m a firm believer in allowing the individual child to help dictate what they can handle.  Brendan saw a snippet of the first Harry Potter movie on TV one day and was so interested I allowed him to watch the full movie (the first movie is really tame overall and I had no concerns about letting my 6 almost 7 year old watch it).  When he expressed interest in seeing more of the movies, I allowed him to watch the second and third movies again without hesitation.  The first three books, and their corresponding movies I felt were appropriate for that age.  The subject matter isn’t terribly dark, and they have a good story and are full of adventure that would be appealing to a boy Brendan’s age.

When Brendan wanted to continue watching the movies in the series, I was hesitant.  Movies 4-7 are much darker and deal with much more adult themes.  So, Brendan and I watched them together.  That way I would be present to monitor his reaction to the movies and on hand to answer any questions or concerns that he had immediately.  My boy proved to me at that point that he was mature enough to handle the subject matter involved and he really enjoyed the evolving story.  (amazingly the deaths in Harry Potter don’t bother Brendan at all, unlike the deaths of the innocent animals in March of the Penguins and Big Miracle.)

Brendan is such a sensitive child that it always amazes me when he says or does something that remind me how wise beyond his years that he is.  Brendan can look at a situation with such logic that you really have to look at him and wonder if he really is 8 going on 9.  How many other kids could have taken two seperate conversations about magic and realized that one couldn’t be true if the other one wasn’t.  The maturity and logic that he possesses are what will help him make his way through life, but I fear they are also the things that will rob him of some of the experiences of childhood.

His imagination is both vast and lacking at the same time.  Brendan absolutely loves to play pretend, and will imagine a scenario so complex that you almost have to be inside his head to fully grasp it, but at the same time he seems only able to imagine things that he’s directly experienced.  Back in pre-school when he rode a van back and forth to school he’d play “van driver” and he would walk along a pre-determined course through the house or yard and pick up all the kids for school and drop them off.  Then he’d do the whole thing in reverse, hitting all of the exact same places to take them home again.  Over the summer, when he was playing a lot of Mario Party on the Wii, he played “Bowser’s Station” and would take his brother and the neighbor kids on an adventure that followed the game precisely.  Currently he’s writing a story, based loosely on the Harry Potter series where the big difference is that the main characters are Brendan and his friends instead of the characters from the story.

Brendan will come to a conclusion about Santa in his own time, but it’s hard for me to see him on the brink of discovery this close to Christmas.  My only wish this Christmas would be for my boy to believe one final year, and to make his discovery after the new year.

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