My 12 year-old got by it a year or so ago, finally coming to honest terms with herself about it; not only in her own mind, but as concerning the fact we told her a huge, heinous, spectacular lie. Now, sure, we think it's cute that little kids are so trusting, endowing us so easily with the care of their young unspoiled souls, hearts, and minds as well as their physical aspects. We love to see the wide-eyed wonder of their curiosity, their delight at having their fond desires met by a kindly grandfather who knows all, sees all, forgives and loves us. It's a figure of our own desire to be cared for. We relate to it, are captivated by it, wooed, and entertained... and we see it- and excuse it- as innocent. Of course they'll learn that it's a mere crock of shit. In fact, in an ideal Western World, their first run at dealing with crocks of shit and the disappointment they inevitably represent is the one called "Santa Claus".
It's not innocent to put kids through it though. Put yourself back in those vulnerable shoes, and remember what it was really like to grow up with divorced parents, to find out your father's heart was long gone from you, or to hear, by the grapevine, that your girl/boy/best friend had betrayed you. Santa Claus was your first lie, the first (and perhaps most brilliant) example of what this life would be delivering so much more of.
Our 10 year-old, in her almost aggressive leaning toward things bright and beautiful, hopeful and wholesome, is still holding tenaciously to the myth. I don't know if- or how much- doubt has set in, but I'm pretty sure she knows she's alone in her enthusiasm at this point, so long before that season of wondrous magic and joyful celebration... Last night she was in her room listening to Christmas music, making Christmas cards. She was cutting up magazines with the big scissors, crafting Christmas wishes and blessings for her long list of loved ones. I think she suspects...
And the part I don't look forward to isn't so much her view of me or her mother, but the fact she will end up feeling like a blame fool, and perhaps come to doubt the truth of anything that carries with it the power and promise of the impossible. I think the fact we've made so much good into such a lie is the worst thing we could have done- especially to one for whom hope and faith are such a mainstay. It was destructive, and boy am I sorry.
But she'll get over it. Her sister did.