Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hitchhikers Guide To Child Rearing

I need a parenting handbook, badly. I am not talking about textbooks explaining the ins and outs of diaper changing or milestones they should achieve. I am talking about a full blown, down and dirty, guide to help us turn these little things into wonderful people, whilst still holding onto my sanity in the process. Who knew that this whole parenting chapter of our lives could be so fraught with anguish. In the book (if it exists, because I don’t think it does), I would like to see a chapter on mythical fairies and magical people. For years, fourteen in fact, I have been the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Father Christmas (although I have to say my husband suited the latter role better), and I loved it. Unfortunately, there comes a time when we know we have to admit to our children the whole scam. My son, at the tender age of ten, took my husband and me aside one day and gave us a scolding. He reminded us that being deceitful is wrong and that he had worked out our deceit. There was something in me that wanted to defend myself  like a ten year old and jump up saying “smarty pants”, but I couldn’t. He was technically right. Not wanting a repeat of our first experience and given the fact that our daughter will be twelve in four weeks we decided it was time. We thought she knew, after all her Christmas list last year consisted of items that  added up to approximately $4,000 and when asked to think carefully about the items she simply said that Father Christmas doesn’t have to worry about money as he makes everything. There was our first clue, or so we thought. She had been talking about the Easter Bunny all last week, even to her friends, who all gave her the knowing look, so we decided to tell her. After all being the last to know is always painful.


Our fabulous, fun loving daughter collapsed, crying uncontrollably. Heartbroken by the knowledge the Easter Bunny does not exist. There wasn’t anything we could do. The words were out, and life as she knew it would never be the same. Trying hard not to cry myself, I hugged her and tried my best to comfort her distress, but no amount of consoling worked. What had we done? Had we taken away her dreams and given her the first harsh lesson of reality? She is one of life’s innocents, a super sweet genuine girl and I pray I haven’t destroyed that. Obviously, my husband and I are crushed by the outcome of our decision, beating ourselves up every day since. We feel like the worst parents in the world, but we truly thought we were doing the best by helping her to avoid the harsh tongues of other children. I hope that one day she will understand our thinking and forgive us. Until then, if anyone knows of a handbook as I described above, please let me know.


  1. Oh that's horrible! We still keep up the pretense at our house, even among the adults, since my mother said that we were free to believe as we please but the gifts stop coming once it's out in the open...

  2. Trust me the gifts are still going to come! Parenting is not that easy, right or wrong we do what we think is best for our children.

  3. "Making glad the heart of childhood"
    I feel for you, I really do. I haven't been faced with it yet, and don't know what I'll do except point to the iconic Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" editorial. Here's my favorite part of it:

    There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
    The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

    You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

  4. I'm sorry it was so traumatic for all of you. Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy DO exist in the imaginations of loving parents and their children. No, we are not lying to our children; we are merely speaking metaphorically.

  5. Sadly, I well remember being one of those obnoxious children who told others that their parents were Santa Claus. I had spotted the Belks receipts on my parents dresser and knew then that Santa did not bring my Brownie Scout gear. Parenting is so hard and in some ways it was easier when diapers were the only serious change instead of hormones, bullies, and so many decisions. All of us just have to keep trying and know that the same way that we now understand our own parents better, some day our children will understand us better.

  6. I always go back to the words of my Mama, "We do our best, and pray that we did the right thing." Who knows what the best course of action is in any decision we make regarding our children? As parents, we know our own children best and base our decisions on our knowledge of our child, sometimes we nail it, and sometimes we miss the mark. I can't help but believe that when we try our best and base our decisions on what is right for our child, that trumps all. We're human, not perfect and so no manual would ever cover all the unique situations that arise. Hang in there. One thing we can be sure of is that there is more to come!


Thank you so much for commenting - it makes our day! Your comment will appear just as soon as I get the wash out, and determine that you're a real person!