When Ralph Asked About Santa Claus

My oldest, Ralph, has grown up a little too much over the last few weeks.

First, he’s home from school with a cold this morning, and he took advantage of that fact to have a reality-of-Santa Claus-discussion. He’s now officially in the know. To welcome him to the club, we offered to let him eat Santa’s cookies and the reindeer veggies.

Second, 2 weeks ago on the way to Cub Scouts, he asked Ben about a scene from The Christmas Story movie. He wanted to know what the bad word is that Ralphie says when he’s helping his Dad change the tire. So Ben told him straight up what it was. Ben asked if he’d ever heard it before and Ralph said no. Then Ben told him that if Ralph ever hears it spoken, the speaker is behaving poorly and Ralph should be unimpressed. And, made it clear that Dad knows all the ugly words and is unintimidated by them.

I was delighted with how Ben handled it and delighted Ralph would come to Ben with the question. But still felt my heart constrict at the thought of the word getting rolled around in my son’s head. The picture above was taken on the very day I started this blog — only a few months ago — when he didn’t know the f-word and still believed in Santa. Sigh.

How have you handled the outing of Santa? Or the swear word lo-down?

And speaking of innocence, I love these pictures my mom posted of my Dad & Santa in 1946 and 1949 at age 4 and 7:

27 thoughts on “When Ralph Asked About Santa Claus”

  1. i have a hard time with the santa business, i must admit. it feels like lying, and i’m afraid that someday, when they find out the truth, they’ll think everything i’ve told them is not true. like the story of jesus. or nephi. see what i’m saying?

    so how did he take the news? scout could take or leave santa, but when she finds out the reindeer can’t really fly, there’s going to be deep emotional scarring, i’m sure.

  2. My son is only 3, so we haven’t had to tackle this yet, and I’m in denial of how painful it will be. But what I really wanted to say was how much I LOVE the pictures of your dad, what great treasures!

  3. Oh man. It’s so sweet and sad. Jonah got off the bus the other day and immediately started yelling, “Mom is F$#% a bad word?” He’d seen it written on the bus and a bigger kid had helped him sound it out. Thankfully Ralph was there and told him what was up. Thanks Ralph.

  4. It’s interesting the things that parents experience. The whole thing with Santa has been an interesting experience. We’re going along with it and when my boys are old enough to know the truth about Santa they will become part of the magic. When I found out about Santa it was really a downer for me and I felt like if my parents would have let me help in some way it would have made it easier and fun again. It just took me awhile for Chiristmas to have magic again. Oh, but it was a fun magical adventure while it lasted.

  5. The Santa fable doesn’t last long–age 3 to 6 or 7. Ralph probably already suspected. As a mom I tried not to lie outright. “Mom, is Santa real?” “That’s what they say.” When I knew they were getting the straight scoop at school and really wanted to know, I tried to be kind. Often I stalled, knowing they would be sad.
    My mom admitted it to me the Christmas I was 7, and although I felt an instant of satisfaction, mostly I felt sad. That very night I dreamed Santa with his sleigh and reindeer flew right past my bedroom window, in the narrow space between our house and garage.

  6. The f-word. It’s a big leap between knowing the word and knowing what it means. When I was teaching jr. high and found the word on a wall near my classroom, I asked an older teacher what to do. Unconcerned, she said, “Just take a marker and change the F to a B and the middle letters to O’s. Then it spells BOOK.”

  7. When I was six I outed Santa to a fellow first grader. She was not happy and then her mom called my mom. I guess I was a mean kid. Along the same lines I also told the same girl that Mormons were better than Catholics. Another phone call to my mom ensued. Since then I have learned that Mormons and Catholics are equally lovely people.

  8. the Santa outing for me was one of my best christmas memories:

    my room was right next to the family room, and i could hear the older kids/parents sneaking around christmas eve. Josh came in and made up some bs story about what they were doing – I was pretty sure that santa wasn’t real, and as soon as the noise died down i jumped out of bed and ran out into the family room, i knew the presents would be set up.
    The christmas tree lights were the only light, all the presents were there, and my mom was sitting on the ottoman in the middle of the room; I thought i might be in trouble or something, but she was happy and had me come sit with her and we just sat there for a while, it was really peaceful.
    I got to help with presents each year after that.

  9. we have been having this exact conversation in our house this week..the “F” word that is…it is kind of jarring to hear your 7 y.o. daughter say it…the 2 older kids wanted to know what it meant, so i told them, and then i told them that it doesn’t make a lot of sense the way people use it and they will probably hear it a lot, but they shouldn’t say it because it doesn’t take a lot of brains to use it and it is the most offensive word…something like that

    i’ve been wondering when josh would figure the santa thing out, how did ralph find out? i keep thinking this will be his last christmas as a believer…

  10. Oh I feel the tears coming…maybe because my own sweet Emma is just a few months younger than cute Ralph and they’ve always been a lot alike in many ways. She is a firm believer this year — but I’m guessing we’re reaching the end. Ben’s responses to Ralph’s questions is fantastic parenting at its finest and a great example. It will help me be similarly prepared. Luckily Emma still consdiers “dumb” a bad word. Ahhh, but they grow and change right before our eyes.

  11. I would tell Ralph that the real story of Santa Claus is much better than the fiction. Once upon a time there was a real person who in an effort to follow Jesus did some very kind things for children and now millions of people try to do likewise 1800 years later. I will tell my child, when the time comes that I have been honest with her, I believe in Santa Claus, the real one. I believe in being kind and in passing on a tradition that brings so much happiness to so many children.

  12. the juxtaposition of these two stories is fabulous. precious and jarring all wrapped up in one nice neat post. well done. and those pictures of your dad are too good to be true. what treasures they are!

  13. last year santa was outed by our key speaker during sacrament meeting.

    needless to say, none of the moms were very happy with him.

    it was one time we were hoping none of the children were paying attention in church.

  14. you made me cry! sweet little Ralph is growing up. i can’t believe someday i’ll be talking to Connor about the same things. hopefully i can handle it as well as you guys did.

  15. Those pictures are so awesome!
    My oldest son is in 5th grade and we had the Santa talk a month ago. He is up for the task of “helping” keep the illusion alive for the rest of the crew or I told him he would die an early death. He seems OK with that arrangement, being fond of breathing and all…

  16. Someone I know had a child who confronted her about the existance of Santa. The Mom insisted that Santa was real and explained who the orignal Santa was and how we can all now take part in secret giving. She then took her child to the store to buy a gift for someone else initiating the child in the “Santa club”.

    I had another friend who, upon learning that her parents were the real Santa, helped her parents one Christmas Eve with bringing out all the gifts…she hated it. Christmas morning lost all its magic.

  17. My mother always insisted on Santa’s realness, and as we got older and figured it all out, it was really fun to feel like we were carrying on the “real Santa’s” work. . .

    We knew a couple who refused to acknowledge Santa at all because, apparently, he was scarred for life when he found out “the truth.” I feel like they are doing a huge disservice to their kids in so many ways.

    Gabby, as always, you and Ben handled the situations excellently.

  18. My dad outed the whole Santa thing to me when I was but a small child of 4 (my mom was not happy)–I threatened to have my step-dad adopt me, but backed down when my dad informed me that I would no longer have my cousins on his side–ah, childhood logic! I like how Ben handeled the dreaded F word. When I inquired about it, I had to play the guessing game with my mom by saying every F word I could think of until I got close enough that she got mad–probably better to just let it out in the open, otherwise it becomes a fun game.

  19. i’m struggling with the same thing this year with my 3rd grader. she’s so trusting and we’re afraid she’ll loose trust in everything we’ve taught her (like jesus and nephi), too.

    we didn’t tell my (now)6th grader until the spring of his 4th grade. it seemed to go well, but during church at christmas time, his eyes were watering while he drew a picture of santa on his sleigh, and he whispered to me ‘you know that thing you told me about santa? i wish you never would have told me.’ it still makes me sad to think about it.

    my mom told our family by writing a cute book about all the busy, sweet things santa did and ending it with a picture of my dad dressed as santa.

  20. I love what love.boxes wrote about telling kids about the real St. Nicholas. It’s a great compromise. I say let the magic last as long as possible, until they actually ask. You don’t have to worry that they won’t believe other things, like about your beliefs etc. You just tell them that some things are make-believe and are for fun, and other things are real, and we take them on faith. They’ll come to know how to tell the difference.

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