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Monday, January 06, 2014

The Santa Question...



Christmas break is over and it's time to go back to school. The first few days back after a long break are usually quiet in terms of getting sub assignments. The teachers are supposed to be rested and ready to dive back in, while the substitute teacher sleeps in.

So of course, the phone is ringing at 5:30am this morning offering a 2nd grade assignment at one of the three schools that call me most often. Second graders are fun and eager learners. The post-Christmas excitement of sharing and comparing should make for an easy day...or so I thought.

This was a last minute teacher no-show as there was some kind of medical emergency. Her co-teachers were hurriedly trying to cobble together a lesson plan. Much appreciated by me, as I don't know the classroom routine.

Just to make things more interesting, the office staff informs me that this class has a new 2nd grader transfer from another school starting today. I scrounge a desk while the office staff delivers a book set and a chair for the kid to occupy.

I introduced the new kid (NK) to the rest of the class and was pleased that the kids were welcoming and helpful getting him situated. NK was quiet at first but his classmates are friendly and I can see he should not have any problems fitting into his new situation. By lunchtime, he has already hooked up with some of the other boys in the class.

The bomb exploded after lunch.

The kids are working quietly on some practice pages when three girls approach my desk to report that NK is telling everybody that Santa Claus isn't real!!

I approach to hear NK in a heated discussion with some of the boys at his table. NK in a calm tone IS telling these guys that "..Santa is just your parents buying stuff" with some of the boys responding a bit louder "You're LYING, I SAW HIM"!

My daughter encountered this problem last year with her own 3rd grader. Paige insisted on knowing the truth. After repeated assurances that she was "really, really ready for the "truth", Paige sadly told her mom later: "I'm going to sleep now and hope I forget everything you just told me"

I escort NK back to the teacher's desk for a quite conversation.

Me:  Dude! What's going on here?
NK:  They think Santa is real. I know he's not.

Me:  Why do you think that?
NK:  I just know. My uncle told me.

Me:  Do you think it's your job to let everyone else "know"
NK: (shrugs shoulders)

Me:  Look! It's not your job to blab stuff you hear from your uncle, so knock it off, ok?
NK:  (shrugs shoulders, and wanders back to his desk muttering...)

NK has upset the class introducing doubt about the "Santa" question as I can hear muted discussion and snatches of "is too...is not" passing back and forth between NK and other students.

"Mr. Homework! NK is lying! Right?

Now, I'm NOT going to tell 2nd graders that NK is right and Santa isn't real. That's obviously NOT my responsibility and, like I told NK, not my job. But they ARE waiting for a response. Copping out with "ask your parents" isn't much better.

"Look, here's the deal. Santa IS real! But only to children who still believe. He knows when you get older and kind of stop believing. That's when he notifies your parents to let them know that, from now on, it's up to them to help deliver your presents for him." That kind of settled the issue.

After class I saw the principle in the office to let her know about NK and the "Santa issue".

I'm going home now and hope I don't have to deal with any Easter Bunny issues later this year.

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