That moment when you realize that your almost 10 year old has been pulling the wool over your eyes for weeks on end and the only reason you figured it out was because he came out and told you? When it occurs to you that you are completely and totally hosed for the rest of your life because the kid is such a good actor that you will never ever again know if he’s lying or not because he’s able to conceal it that well?
Yeah we had one of those moments over winter break.
Last year Brendan was starting to show signs of not believing in Santa any longer. We were hoping he’d make it through that year because how crappy would it have been to tell the kid the truth 2-3 days before Christmas. We felt like that would just be a low blow. So we kind of strung him along through the holiday and figured we’d find a good opportunity to tell him after the new year had begun. It was somewhere in February or March that the time came to tell him the truth.
He had a loose tooth and was excitedly sharing the news with his friends at school. They all teased him and told him that there was no Tooth Fairy and that it was his parents doing it. Brendan was less upset about this news than I would have thought, but it was enough for him to come home and confront me with it. Unfortunately, he chose to do so with his 5 year old brother wide awake in the bunk beneath his, so I wasn’t able to fully answer his questions that night without ruining everything for Cameron as well.
The next morning I took him into my bedroom for a private chat and revealed everything; the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus. Matt and I had previously decided that once one of the big three went down they might as well all be revealed at once. Brendan took the news fairly well and was excited to go back to school and tell his friends they were right. I made sure to impress upon him that he should be careful who he talked to because he wouldn’t want to be the one to ruin the secret for someone else. I also made sure that he understood that he would be in a lot of trouble if I found out he told his brother or sister.
Months pass, and the subject was never brought up again. We made it through Easter and two more visits from the Tooth Fairy without any mention of our previous conversation. He was being good to his word and keeping the secret to himself. Then Christmastime came and the subject slowly turned to Santa Claus. It’s pretty hard to ignore conversations about the big man himself during that time of year and we fully expected Brendan to be less enthusiastic about the whole thing this year knowing that he knew there really wasn’t a Santa.
But he wasn’t. He was as ecstatic as ever about what Santa might bring him. He went to the Shrine Christmas party and sat on Santa’s lap with as much gusto as he’d shown in previous years. He was so enthusiastic about it that we actually stopped and worried that he had forgotten what we had told him and completely relapsed into believing again. We weren’t sure what to do. Should we take him aside and tell him again? What if that completely ruined Christmas for him? Did he really believe again or was he just saying that to us because he was afraid if he didn’t believe he wouldn’t get any presents? The situation had us baffled for weeks.
Then, with just two days to go until Christmas, the subject of the Tooth Fairy got brought up again. We were in the car coming home from physical therapy and Brendan was wondering if the Tooth Fairy would bring him a $5 bill if he lost another tooth. I explained that the Tooth Fairy only brings that much money when he has teeth pulled, she brings golden dollars for regular teeth lost. After that he was quiet for a moment before he said cautiously, “I still know your secret you know.”
I was startled. Where had that come from? And did he mean what I thought he meant? I spoke slowly as well wanting to make sure I didn’t say too much before I was sure what he meant. “Which secret is that buddy?” He looked at me as though I’d lost my mind, “The one where you guys are Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny” Ahhhhh. So it IS what I thought it was. Phew.
I’m quite certain the shock showed clearly on my face as I looked over at him to confirm I’d just heard what I thought I’d heard. I burst out laughing and told him that he was an excellent actor because Matt and I had truly thought he’d begun to believe in Santa again. He smiled ruefully and said that he was just acting for the little kids sake. He wanted to make sure that they thought he believed too so they would also continue to believe. I was flabbergasted. My oldest child, the one whom I have never had any trouble seeing through his lies and falsehoods before, had just done such an exquisite job at fooling me for more than a month that I hadn’t seen it coming at all.
When we got back home, he went to Matt and after making sure that the little ones would not overhear him revealed the same secret to Matt. Matt’s face showed just as much shock as mine did. He reached out and gave Brendan a really big hug and thanked him for doing all that he could to keep Santa alive for the little ones.
As proud as I am of what my little guy did, I know that if he’s that good an actor now he’ll only improve with age and that means I am completely hosed. I will never again know if my buddy is actually telling me the truth or just expertly concealing an elaborate lie.