The Illustration Friday word o' the week is Sea. As the tagline for Babe says, you are what you imagine yourself to be.
An imagination is a wonderful thing. A forced imagination might be difficult. We parents are good at forcing our imaginations on our offspring. As my son is now in third grade, I thought it was time he took the next step towards manhood. "Joseph," I said, steeling myself for the tears, "there is no Santa Claus."
He insisted that there was, or else who was that he saw at the mall? "You saw a fat guy with a beard & glasses in a red suit," I replied. "I’m the same thing, but without the suit. You don't call me Santa, do you?" Going for broke, I also delivered the dirt on the Tooth Fairy & the most bizarre holiday lagomorphicaton of all- the Easter Bunny.
Joe was still not convinced, so I showed him the South Park Episode "The Tooth Fairy Tats 2000," where upon learning the truth about the Tooth Fairy, the lads of
"Dad," Joe instantly asked, "What's a penis & what happens if you cut it off,"
Once I was able to stop laughing & breathe again, I went for the bronze & explained that a penis was what boys peed out of.
"Ohhh," he said knowingly. "So if you cut it off, all your pee would come out. And you wouldn't want that."
"And a lot of blood, too," I added. "You simply don’t want any of your body cut off- right?"
"Right!" he said, happy that he had a handle on things. The epic of the Birds vs. the Bees can wait for another day.
My friend Amanda told me her daughter almost found out about Santa this year- apparently tipped off by a TV show. The young girl was horrified that mommy might have lied, so mommy assured her that yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.
"So what happens when she learns the truth next year?" I wanted to know. Lies compound lies... which brings me to the point. The majority of kids- myself & my son included, are mortified upon learning these horrible truths, because OUR PARENTS LIED TO US. We tell our kids that lying is the worst thing they can do- and then we lie to their faces for years. Is this all some sort of rite-of-passage the next generation of kids can do without? Or is it an essential way of teaching them that people are going to lie to them, so get used to it? My parents & my in-laws were horrified that I "ruined" Christmas for Joe, & assured him that Santa was real. That's it, undermine me & confuse the kid, why don’t you. We claim we keep it up for the kids, but I think we do it for ourselves. We want to vicariously have the wonder all over again, through our children's eyes. We just forget about the confusion afterwards when we find out these things are all make-believe.
Except, of course, for Mr. Hanky. He's real.