Several days ago, a second grade teacher in upstate New York had the audacity to reveal to her students that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Many parents were understandably outraged. If my daughter had been one of her students, I would be too.
First of all, no teacher has the right to tell my daughter in what or in whom she can believe. The primary role of a teacher is to educate my daughter and although this means more than just teaching a subject such as history or math, it does not mean that she has permission to get into a business that only concerns me.
My daughter is in kindergarten and still believes in Santa Claus or Papá Noel, as I have called him all my life. The other day it was cold and we lit the fireplace and she asked me how Santa managed not to get burnt when he used it to come into our house. I told her we just had to make sure the fire was out completely before his arrival. And that was that.
A few weeks ago, while writing her letter to Santa, she also wanted to know if he spoke English or Spanish, but she answered her own question by saying she was sure he spoke all languages to understand the letters from children all over the world. And I nodded.
I guess I will have to answer a lot more questions as she grows up – especially if she is unfortunate enough to encounter a child who no longer believes or never believed in Santa and wants her to grow faster than necessary. I still don’t know how I’ll respond to the key question. I think it depends on how old she is. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, I love to enjoy the excitement as she writes her letter to Santa, mostly because she’s just learning to write and is doing really well. She also loves to draw, so with great care her letter ended up being a work of art (for a 5-year-old, of course). At the end, my daughter was very proud. So was I.
I feel that these days childhood lasts less and less. In this fast-paced world driven by technology, children grow very fast and fantasy is fleeting.
What's wrong with my daughter believing in Santa? Absolutely nothing.
Either way, the truth is that I should be the one telling her the truth... about that and many of life’s other harsh realities.
Roxana A. Soto is an Emmy-winning Peruvian-born, Denver-based bilingual journalist and the co-founder of SpanglishBaby.com.