By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer and editor who worked for The Star & edited magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Visit her on Twitter @sholain
These days many parents are pro-facts when it comes to speaking to their children and hubby and I are no different. When Isobel(5.5 years old) asks, “Mama, where do babies come from?”, we don’t say “the stork brings the baby”. My chosen response at this stage is that mummy and daddy love each other and so they can make a baby together which grows in mummy’s tummy. She knows about amniotic fluid and one of her most treasured photos is the one taken the moment she was born, covered in the blood with the umbilical cord still attached. Yes, we want to tell our girls the truth about things – “where does rain come from?” is answered with a simple explanation of condensation and evaporation and if they ask about death, we don’t sugar coat it, death is death…but we contradict ourselves a few times a year and Christmas brings out the most hypocritical part of us as parents.
There’s something amazingly innocent and sweet when your little child falls for the Santa lie, which I like to refer to as #SantaGate. They listen wide-eyed as you explain how Santa will arrive on his sleigh transport magically by flying reindeers so that he can deliver zillions of presents globally. It’s thrilling to see the huge smiles when they wake up in the morning and see the empty glass of milk and cookie with a bite missing next to the sparkling Christmas tree under which lay the presents carefully wrapped and slyly placed by the main #SantaGate conspirators. And come Christmas morning millions of parents all over the world are satisfied when the lies that we tell our little children reap the intended outcome – happiness.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. If you’re manipulative enough, you could capitalise on #SantaGate all year round. What about Santa’s little birds always listening and watching for naughty children…so everyone who wants a present at Christmas must behave or else…
Then we have the Easter Bunny and my personal favourite, the Tooth Fairy.
Just last week I was given a ‘get out of #SantaGate free’ card…Isobel announced that “teacher said that parents lie to little children about Santa bringing presents and it’s you, the parents who buy the presents for us…”, lowering her voice so her toddler sister(3) could not hear, she added, “but mama, don’t tell the little children.” I was outraged! My little girl’s innocent Christmas joy had been snatched from her and my years of manipulation had been exposed. What could I do…apart from sticking to the lie? Thinking quickly I said that sometimes Santa asks the mums and dads to help buy some gifts because he has so much work to do, and then(I’m guilt-ridden at the extent of the manipulation), I found a website that actually provides a personalised video message from Santa and made one for Isobel. Later that day as she was getting ready for bed, I casually mentioned that I received a message for her during the day and showed her the video. I watched as her face lit up with pleasure and a huge smile appeared on it and I swear, she looked so relieved as though she was just waiting for me to prove her teacher wrong.
Relief! I had succeeded for one more year, long live #SantaGate! 😉