Friday, December 26, 2014

I'm Santa

"Yeah. What's up, buddy?"
"Santa's real, right?"

I'm a fan of Christmas. I always have been. I don't remember (spoiler alert!) when exactly I learned that Santa wasn't real. I'm sure it was middle elementary school (3rd or 4th grade), around the time when the older kids found humor in our confusion over condominiums and condoms... One of my friends unfortunately argued his family lived in... well.. easy mistake at that age. 

While I don't remember the when exactly, I know it wasn't until my middle to late teen years that I found peace with the meaning of Santa and the reality that Santa is something that lives in us all. 

It's bothered me that as parents we create this "lie" to our kids and insist that Santa exists as a real man dressed in red that delivers presents with flying reindeer and sleigh, even when our kids question the feasibility. We answer the questions with the easy "he's magic" answer, and hope that our kids just buy it until their classmates on the playground are teasing them for still believing. Not a comfortable conversation follows that scenario, and the kiddo might question everything you say from then on! (Over dramatic? Maybe.. OR maybe not! 😜)

So, this year I found myself facing more of these questions from my oldest. He's a super bright 3rd grader. His questions got the attention of his 6 year old sister, so now things were serious! I decided to approach their questions with two of my own.

The first question I posed was to ask them what they thought or believed. Instead of answering with "he's magic" and walking away or replying with "yup, he doesn't exist", I decided to use a teaching skill and have them reflect on what they believed. For a topic like Santa, this reflection gets them thinking with their hearts; the place, I believe, the true Santa can be found. 

The question that followed was to ask, "what if I'm (daddy is) Santa?" This really got their eyes popping! "ARE you Santa?" they would ask. To which I replied, "what does your heart tell you?" Again, I wanted them to think about it and consider it. By at least placing the idea in their heads that I could be Santa, my hope is that they will be more comfortable transitioning to this reality. That and it's a great boost for me: "Daddy you can't be Santa! You're not old and fat!" ...sweet!! 😀

My goal in answering their questions with my own questions is to help them reflect on who Santa is to them. If my plan works, they will see that Santa is something that lives inside us all, and while there might not be a magical, jolly, fat man that lives in the North Pole, it doesn't mean that we all can't still make Christmas a magical day by embracing our inner Santas for the ones that we love. 

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and I would love to hear some of your stories on how you've handled the "Is Santa real" question. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My promises to my 5 kids

I started writing this while holding my newly born daughter in the hospital. The 5th kiddo created by the love my wife and I share. When I was a kid, I always knew that I would be a dad and a husband. In fact, these details were all that I was sure of. The boyhood dream of being a dad isn't what I thought it would be. It's not that it's harder; it's just there are certain parts that I expected to have been smoother. For example, as a kid I knew that I would be going to college and because of that I would never have to worry about money. (Cute kid thinking, huh!?)

So while I think back about those little dreams I had about what my life as a dad was going to be like, I see how my thoughts about fatherhood have changed. These changes are a list of promises that I have made to all 5 of my kids. I keep adding to theses promises, but for now here is my list. 

1) I promise to always love your mom. This is number 1 because without the love that your mom and I share, all of you don't exist. This love is where our family began, and I promise to not let it ever go away.

2) I promise to love each of you forever. This doesn't mean the same, because none of you are the same. You will each need me differently as you grow up, and I promise to love you so much that I will learn what that need is and fill it to the best of my ability. 

3) I promise to not be perfect. I'm realistic. I will make plenty of mistakes as your dad; just as you will make mistakes. I promise that I will show you what it means to own your mistakes and to learn from them to become a better version of yourself.

4) I promise to get you all the essentials for everyday living and an occasional item off the "want" list. It's important to know that you can't necessarily have everything just because you want it. I will help you learn how to work hard to collect more if not all of those "wants."

5) I promise that I'll tell you when you can't leave the house looking like that. And yes I'll mean it, and of course I'll accept your apology after you tell me that you hate me.

6) To my daughters, I promise that I'll think nobody is good enough for you,... But when he proves me wrong, I'll apologize. 

7) I promise to allow each of you to become yourselves. I'll give you the freedom to express who you are as long as you are respecting yourself along the way. Try things. Be safe, and know that while I may be disappointed, I will always and forever love you. 

8) I promise to show you how to greive, so that when the day comes when I have to say goodbye, you all will be able to take care of each other knowing that my love for you all didn't leave with me. 

I know that this list is missing something, or maybe it isn't. If you can think of a good addition or something that needs tweaking please leave a comment.

Have a great day, and be a great dad, because you can!