My family was having dinner or rather what masquerades as dinner.Justin was soaking up spilled milk with newspaper because we had run out of paper towels. Jack was crying because he had spilled the milk. Hadley was trying to steal fruit from Cameron's plate while Cameron loudly sang the Barney Theme Song in an attempt to stop Jack from crying. I wondered if she had any songs she could sing for me? I felt like crying.
Then suddenly, I felt like throwing up as Hadley said to me, "Hey Mom - after dinner, I need to talk to you - privately."
Christmas had been in full-swing at our house for about a week. The tree was up, the stockings were hung and though we were a mere few days into December, we had already visited Santa twice. Also, our Elf on the Shelf had appeared which made it official - the holidays had began.
Hadley's face appeared serious. I appeared horrified. Hadley had never asked to speak to me privately about anything. My gut told me this was it. Santa was no longer real. She no longer believed.
After dinner, I consulted Justin.
ME: Oh. My. God. She wants to talk to me privately! This is it. She knows about Santa. What do I tell her?
JUSTIN: What are you talking about? Privately? Who?
ME: Hadley! Did you not hear her - during dinner?
JUSTIN: Is that supposed to be a joke?
ME: No! She wants to talk to me privately. I think she knows about Santa.
JUSTIN: Well, if she asks, I don't think you should lie to her.
ME: Well then you do it - you talk to her. I don't want to.
JUSTIN: You're going to have to man up here Abbie - if you can't break the news about Santa, how are you ever going to explain the birds and the bees?
ME: I hate you.
I spent the rest of the evening avoiding Hadley. She'd walk into a room, and I'd duck out. She'd yell out "Hey Mom!" and I'd pretend I didn't hear. If this is any indication of how future sex talks might go, she's going to be featured on Sixteen and Pregnant.
Eventually, she found me hiding in her closet. I hide there a lot as I pretend to put away laundry. Apparently that gig's up.
"Mom" she started.
Oh here we go I thought. This is the end. No more Santa. No more magic. No more eyes filled with wonder on Christmas morning. Her time had passed. I should have watched her more closely last year. I should have bottled her bewildered expressions in my memory as there would be no more of them.
I took a deep breath. Looked at her tiny face and sighed knowing that these would be the last few moments she would believe. I couldn't lie to her….at least not when asked directly. Telling her the fish sticks are really chicken is totally different. This was totally serious.
HADLEY: Mom, do you hide Elfie? Sara told me that she found her elf in her Mom's drawer and that her mom hides him every night. Is that true?
Was that it? All that anxiety for that damn elf. I didn't care if she didn't believe in the elf. I hate the elf. It's a pain in the ass. Elfie is is laziest elf ever, because I can never remember to move him. Last year, I had him quit for a week because, quite frankly, the girls were being a-holes, and I was tired.
ME: What do you think? Do you think I hide Elfie?
HADLEY: Yeah, I do. Tell me the truth.
ME: Yes, I hide Elfie.
HADLEY: You don't do a good job. Sara's mom has Elfie do fun stuff - like toilet paper the tree.
ME: Well, you can hide him for Cameron and Jack if you promise not to tell them you're doing it.
HADLEY: Yes! I'll do it - I'll hide him!
Whew, crisis averted and the elf burden lifted.
HADLEY: Oh and mom - about Santa….
My eyes grew big…oh no!!!!
HADLEY: So….Santa writes a note puts it in the elf's box and tells parents to move him?
ME: Yep - that's exactly right.
She hadn't quite connected the dots and that was all right with me. She still believes. It's a paper-thin belief, but this Christmas, at our house, Santa still exists.