My 9-Year-Old & the S-Word

It began about this time last year. Perhaps on the drive home after swim practice, or when we walked through the grocery store, or after a play-date. Z-girl, then 8, would quiz D or I about S.

Is it Grandma and Grandpa?
How would you do it?
If you didn’t play along at school you were a dork.

The S-word — and the even worse, the talk.

“Mom, Grandma and Grandpa can’t be Santa, because they only carry-on when they come for Christmas.”

“Dad, everyone at school says it’s your mom and dad —
but I know you guys don’t have that kind of money.”

Yet the math kept adding up in her head. Maybe it was sealed when she saw the candy-cane wrapping paper in my closet. Maybe she put it together when she saw that Santa also put a cross-stroke through his letter Z.

So with the early appearance of the holidays this year (wreath-hanging in our local shopping area, on Halloween, or the wrapping papers and toys arriving at Costco, in September) Z-girl, now 9, restarted the verbal inquisition.

This year it was fueled with more sass and knowingness than we expected. D and I began to duck from the topic all together — while she inquired as if the lead in a Grisham novel.

In my family, as I grew older and more inquisitive, my parents would tell me, “if you don’t believe, you don’t get” or, “we don’t get you presents, Santa does”.

I assumed this would be our own party-line for many (hopefully twenty) years to come.

Of course this wouldn’t do for my Z-girl. She is not cut from the same cloth as I.

As time went on, it became increasingly obvious that she was not going to let it rest — and she was cross-examining us more frequently. Our worry came not from her finding us out, but from the possibility that she would ruin, for her little brother and sister, the magic we’d worked to create when she was small.

Recently a friend was over for dinner, on a night Z-girl was at a birthday party. This allowed us to compare stories; her 10 year old boy vs. our 9 year old girl. Both of these children being the oldest of numerous siblings. Our friend gave us a suggestion, which we ended up moving forward with. We were going to sit Z-girl down and have the S-talk.

On the Thursday after Halloween, I picked Z-girl up from school early. This has never happened before — she thought I failed to tell her about a dentist appointment. She kept asking what was going on. I said we were going to have lunch with her dad. She kept asking why. I told her she would find out when we met up with him. That it wasn’t anything bad — that we just wanted to talk to her about something.

Over a nutella crepe and root beer at a fancy patisserie, we told Z-girl that she was now in the club. We presented her with a contract which read…

Today, I, Z-girl, become a member of the club.
The other members of the club are my mom and dad.

It is now my responsibility to have fun, with my parents, making B and K’s Christmas Holidays magical! I understand that the club is about fun and happiness and as the newest member I respect the rules!

The rules of the club pertain not only to my brother and sister — but to all other children not currently in the club. I agree to join the club today, November 1, 2012

_______________________ signed Z

After this presentation, we answered a few questions and told many memorable stories. We told her she now got to stay up later to help. She got to drink the diet Coke we left the chubby guy. We told her she could help nibble the carrots and jingle the bells. We explained how fun it has been for us to create the magic all these years for her.

Finally we told her how much we loved her but recently how proud we were of her for so many things; her straight As this past semester, her dedication to her sports, her love of reading. But we reminded her that we were so proud of the resilience she has shown, and blown us away with, in her role as big sister.

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