The Rite of Passage

Your teen years.

Being a freshman in high school and again in University.

Being peed, pooped, puked on by your first newborn.

The first born’s first day of school.

Here’s a new one. Explaining to your first born about Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter Bunny. This year Crash questioned me once about Santa. I’m guessing he’s heard things at school. There’s so much he’s learned at school that isn’t in the curriculum. So much he’s learned from his friends. I could write a book about it. Or at least another post.

Anyway, he tossed it out one evening like it was no big deal, like he was telling me that he put milk in his cup. Like it ain’t no thang…

“I bet you and mom drink the milk, eat the cookies, and buy the presents”.

My response? “I wouldn’t do that. It’s not mine.” He went on to finish his bedtime snack and that was that. I mentioned once in a post that another mom used that as an opportunity  to help her son become Santa. We did something similar this year with the boys. As you may recall we did a daily random act of kindness. While our gifts and acts were not left and done anonymously, it still gave the boys a sense of generosity. It even came back to them twice. One kind soul gave us a turkey. Another kind soul gave us a gift card for a restaurant.

Anyway, back to the rite of passage. It could be because Crash is at that age, or perhaps just coincidence, but I read quite a few posts about children who had reached the “I don’t believe in Santa” age. While we may have skipped it this year, it was only by the seat of our newly hemmed pants. Crash picked up on a few irregularities.

Bang received a remote control car from Santa. However, upon putting batteries in it we discovered it didn’t work. How do you exchange a gift from Santa at Walmart? We played this off because DW’s dad and step-mom had bought the same car for our nephew so we just used their receipt. It sill left an impression on the oldest.

Next year I’m not sure we’ll be so lucky. What I wouldn’t give for them truly believe forever. Yes, it’s a rite of passage for us parents. However, it is just as much their rite of passage, too.  Our kids are growing up. We’ve kept them alive. They are smart enough to know better.

It doesn’t have to mean the magic is dead, though. Like love through a marriage, it doesn’t die, it just changes form. Once we realize this, we can adapt to the change. We change ourselves if need be. We grow.

I’ll never say good bye to the Jolly Old Elf. Even in years to come when neither believe it’s him leaving presents, I plan to make sure one or two have his name on them.

I know Christmas is over. The decorations are mostly down. We’re back to regular music. I just wanted to get this out there. I had it unfinished in my drafts folder and like a 9 year old asking to play Minecraft, it just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Lastly, if you’re really bored or you really love me, check out my YouTube channel to see me playing with my  Crash’s Christmas present. You’ll get a glimpse of where we live.

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The True Spirit of Santa Claus

Fourth grade is a crucial year. I would know because I taught it for 6 years. Every year in December I would create a math test to assess their knowledge of the concept we had just spent weeks learning. However, there was always one question, the last one, that I was most curious about on this December math test.

20) Is Santa Claus real?
O Yes
O No

The ones who answered “Yes” simply thought it was a gimmie. An easy question because it was Christmas time. They thought it was as question I put on there so I would have an even 20 questions instead of 19.

The ones who answered “No”, I knew it was time for a chat. So at lunch time, I would line up the students who answered “Yes” without them knowing why I lined them up specifically. I would send them off and I would talk to the rest. It would go something like this…

Raise your hand if you’re not sure if Santa is real or not. Hands around the room would go up and furtive looks would be passed to one another. Do you know I think Santa is real? In fact, I know he is. Think about what Santa does. He delivers presents to people around the world. How do those people feel waking up to gifts under their tree? Pretty amazing, right? Santa spreads joy and happiness. That right there is what the whole Christmas season is about, bringing joy to others. This is a time of year for family, friends, fun, and feeling festive. So really Santa is a person who represents all that. Kind of like the flag represents our country or a cross represents Christianity, Santa represents Christmas spirit. As long as you, as long as others continue to spread joy and happiness, Santa is very real. 

But let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas. This is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Heads would nod, faces would smile, and each of them understood what I meant. Then they’d go on their merry way to lunch and the subject would never be mentioned again.

I bring this up because just yesterday, Crash (who is in 4th grade now) was talking about a picture he colored of cookies and milk for Santa. It’s currently on the fridge and he says to me, “I want to tape it to the table we leave Santa’s cookies and milk on. But I think its you and mom who eat the cookies, drink the milk and buy the presents.”

I paniced. I tried to stay calm on the outside but my insides were screaming and crying on the floor like a full blown toddler tantrum in the candy aisle. My only response was, “I wouldn’t do that. They’re not my treats.” Nothing else was said.

I also bring this up because of a Facebook post that’s been making its rounds. It’s an amazing story of how a mom handled her son’s disbelief in Santa. If you haven’t read it yet, please go here. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you come back.

See? Pretty awesome, right? Essentially, it’s what I told my 4th graders, Santa is the spirit of giving and all things happy. However, she took it a few steps further by allowing him to BE Santa.

I knew this day would come. I just didn’t think it would come this soon. I didn’t think it would be today.

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Be Hated

Sometimes you have to stand your ground. Fight for what you believe in. Speak your opinion when your opinion is warranted.  Even if it means pissing some people off.

This was the gist of Adrian Tan’s convocation address  (http://bit.ly/Ykz0za). I found it through Derek Muller’s YouTube video, Be Hated.

Essentially, they’re telling us that we’ll have our own opinions, our own methods, our own reason for doing what  we do. Sometimes it won’t mesh with other’s opinions, methods, and reasoning. does that mean we should change?

Hell no. Be you.

I’ll be me.

You chose to breastfeed or chose to bottle feed. You chose to public school or private school or homeschool. You chose not to limit screen time or to limit it or to not allow it at all. You chose to stay at home or to go to work. You chose the sadan or the minivan or the SUV. Somebody, somewhere will hate you for your choice.

They’re not you. It wasn’t their choice to make.

I think this easiliy applies to our kids. If we don’t piss them off sometimes, we’re not doing our job as parents. I do that every night with 3 little words, “It is bedtime.” I’m not saying we need to always piss them off. There’s no need to create a battle where a battle isn’t needed. However, if you make a decision in the best interest of your children you need to stick with it regardless of how unpopular it is with the lolipop gang. There comes a time when we have to be judge and jury, not a friend. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them in that moment. It does mean we do love them because we are caring about their well-being and are seeing to to it that we follow through.

“It is bedtime because I said so” is sometimes a sufficient arguement. Of course, you give them the whole explanation. Just don’t let it turn into a negotiation. My kids love a good negotiation like Danny Roman and Chris Sabian.

Go out and do well.

Go out and do good.

Go out and be hated (but don’t be a jerk).

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