Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Outgrowing Santa

Every parent knows the moment is inevitable. I think The Boy is onto us about Santa.

He hasn’t actually said as much, and heaven knows I don’t want to plant the seed just yet. But last weekend when the four of us went out to see Santa -- and stand in a line two hours for the privilege -- I couldn’t help but notice a telltale indifference.

The Girl was excited. To her, Santa is still real. She gave serious thought to the questions she would ask him, and got a little shy when she finally saw him. (She asked if he had any children. He responded that he thinks of the children of the world as his children.)

But not TB. He seemed a little sullen as we went, and even when we finally saw the big guy, he was no more than ‘game.’ He allowed TG to enjoy the moment, but didn’t seem to care much himself. He wasn’t snarky or contrary or brittle about it, though; he respected the moment, even if he didn’t feel it.

I was proud of the way he handled it. Although he can be goofy and frenetic, he can also show surprising poise. This summer, when I had the first Sex Talk with him, he was almost preternaturally calm. He asked the questions he had, and asked questions as I explained things, but never got silly or jumpy or shy. He knows what not to talk to his sister about, which is a relief. He seems to understand that just because you know something exciting and new doesn’t mean that you immediately have to share it with the world.

Here, too, he showed that maturity that he otherwise seems to hide. He didn’t do anything to interfere with his sister’s enjoyment of Santa. Santa may not be real, but she is, and he knew enough to respect her joy. I was immensely proud of him for being so classy.

As proud as I was of him, though, it was hard not to miss the little guy who lit up when Santa came to the house on a fire truck. There was a time when the combination of “Santa” and “fire truck” was just about the coolest thing he could ever imagine.

Now, that little boy is a tweener, and he wants an ipod for Christmas.

Unlike his sister, he always had one of those faces where you could see from toddlerhood what he would look like as he got older. As much fun as it is watching him grow into himself, the surprises have been few and far between. He’s a sweet, handsome kid who is on his way to being a sweet, handsome teenager, and eventually a sweet, handsome adult. For all of his goofiness and random obsessions -- the kid knows more about hurricanes than anybody I know -- he already has a bit of an old soul. When things are difficult or delicate, he suddenly shows a maturity that many adults can’t muster. He understands that his actions and statements affect other people, and he takes care to protect them when he can. Though tall for his age, he’s a gentle giant.

Merry Christmas, TB. Thank you for letting TG savor the gift of wonder that you’re slowly outgrowing.