My son hasn't believed in Santa since the second grade. This isn't a huge chunk of time considering that he's in third, but it seems that this decision has aged him in the eyes of teachers and classmates.
"All the kids in my class hate me," he whimpered when I picked him up from school the other day.
"Oh come on, ALL of them?"
And then I realized that it was possible. My kids go to a very small school, and there are only five other kids in Christopher's class - in fact, in his whole grade. It's great in a way because you know everybody and not so great in a way because a dislike of you can easily become a mob-mentality of "ew he's gross!"
"Yes," he said. "All of them because I don't believe in Santa."
"Oh...well...ALL of them believe in Santa? None of them have older siblings who've, you know, broken it to them harshly?"
"I guess not."
"Well...." I said, years of experience escaping me as I struggled for something wise to say.
"Benjamin says I ruin Christmas."
"Oh for goodness sake, you can't single-handedly ruin Benjamin's Christmas by telling him you don't believe in Santa."
"And the teachers don't like me either."
"Christopher that's not true."
"Well, the first grade teacher doesn't. My teacher asked me to bring her something and when I went in their class William said 'Bejamin says you don't believe in Santa' and the other kids yelled at me and the teacher said, 'Sad.'"
I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath before speaking because I knew if I opened my mouth I would say, "Tell those fuckers that if they want Santa Claus to leave them anything they need to stop picking on my son, and I hope that teacher chokes on coal."
When I opened my eyes I said, "Christopher. I'm going to teach you a sentence. Repeat after me: I respect our differences."
"I respect our differences," he said, giggling. "What the heck does that mean?"
"It means that you respect their beliefs and it's a kind way of saying that they need to respect yours even though you disagree. You're, uh, you're going to use it a lot in life. Let's say it again!"
I led him in another round of "I respect our differences." I don't know if he'll use it. It's kind of nerdy, but bless my son, he is a nerd just like his momma. I didn't think I would have to prepare him for this day when it was him against Santa believers. Usually there's a mix of kids in a class - kids who still believe and those who've already caught their mothers filling their stockings. Christopher is probably exaggerating about EVERYBODY in 1st and 3rd grade HATING him for not believeing in Santa, but I'm sure that they're giving him a hard time about it. This is the time in a young man's life when lines are drawn between those who still believe in imaginary gift givers (Santa, Easter Bunny, etc) and those who don't. What I don't understand is adults who give kids a hard time about this. I believe that teacher told him it was "sad" that he doesn't believe in Santa because I've heard other grown-ups do this and I think the next time I hear it I'll just come out and say, "Why? We're actualy LYING to them. You woudn't tell an 8th grader that it's sad he doesn't believe in Santa. You'd send him to the counselor."
Besides all of these people should know that it is I who am Santa! HA! As proof I will now end this blog post so that I can shop on-line, as all proper Santas do. But nothing for the teacher who hurt Christopher's feelings. She just lost out on scented candles until her behavior improves.