I had "THE" Santa talk yesterday with Monkey, age 7 (almost 8) last night. My father-in-law used to pose as Santa on the phone for my boys' cousins when they were younger, and we have continued that tradition. Occasionally Monkey would want to talk to Santa, so I'd call their house, my mother-in-law would answer, and I would politely inquire if Santa was available. She would give him a heads up and put him on the phone and the kids would proceed to talk his ear off. Yesterday he decided he wanted to call Santa just to wish him a Merry Christmas, which I though was very sweet. So we did. After he got off the phone, he started thinking about the whole Santa thing and started asking me questions:
Monkey: I think the moms just go out to like, Toys R Us, and buy presents when the kids are sleeping. And then they wrap them and put them under the tree on Christmas Eve.
Me: I think you are using very good logic.
Monkey: So is that what happens?
Me: What do you think?
Monkey: Tell me!
Me: What exactly are you asking?
Monkey: Did you buy us presents when we were sleeping and wrap them and put them under the tree?
Me: Yes, I have done that.
Monkey: So is Santa real?
I always loved the fun and excitement of Santa Claus as a child, and I do not remember feeling traumatized at all upon learning the truth - just proud of myself and very grown-up. I had decided that when he was ready to ask me directly, I would give him an honest answer - especially after reading and agreeing wholeheartedly with this post from Dale McGowan at his blog, The Meming of Life.
Me: Let's go in the other room. (Bug was sitting right next to him at the time)
Monkey: Why? You don't want Bug to know?
Me: *makes laser eyeballs at Monkey*
We headed to the other room but of course, Bug heard Monkey's last comment and immediately ran after us. So I had to postpone the rest of the conversation for a bit until they were in separate rooms and Bug had forgotten about it.
Me: Okay, the conversation we were having earlier... do you want to talk about that?
Monkey: Yes. Is Santa real?
Me: Well, yes and no.
Monkey: Just tell me!
Me: Santa is real in the sense that he is a symbol of Christmas, and magic, and of giving and delighting those you love.
Monkey: But he's not real.
Me: Does he literally fly around the whole world and give everyone presents in one night?
Monkey: Of course not!
Me: You are correct.
Monkey: *throws his arms around me* THANK YOU FOR GETTING US PRESENTS EVERY YEAR!
Me: Haha, you're welcome! You did a great job using your mind to figure it out. Now, you are on the big people's side of the Santa game. I need you to be very careful to keep the secret and not ruin it for any other little kids, ok?
Monkey: Ok. When Bug is a little older, then I'll tell him.
Me: No, I don't want you to tell him. When he is ready to ask these same questions, that is when we'll tell him. Ok?
I am proud of him for figuring it out... and at the same time so sad that he's growing up so fast! He is not the best secret keeper in the world, and there is a decent chance that he will accidentally say something and give it away. We shall see what happens...
PS. He never did figure out who that was that he was talking to on the phone!