I have always harboured
reservations about adults convincing children of
the existence of Santa Claus. Perhaps it is an
innocent myth, but it requires lies from those
trusted adults. I sometimes wonder how many young
people experience a sense of betrayal on
discovering the truth.
This moral dilemma posed by
Santa occurs just annually. More frequently,
social pressure forces collusion with a more
The mandatory reaction when
a young woman announces that she is expecting her
first baby is as culturally prescribed and
socially enforced as the requirement to ask a
toddler about presents received from Father
Christmas. In conversation with first time mums-to-be
it is de rigueur to express excitement and
delight and promote a fatuous, mythical belief
that parenthood is simply wonderful.
Why do we lie to them?
I asked a group of fellow parents when the latest
victim of this subterfuge had left the staffroom.
Weve just told Janis that having a
baby is going to be great and shell really
enjoy being a parent. I shook my head in
despair. We all know that shes really
going to have at least twenty years of Hell:
sleepless nights, poverty, massively restricted
freedom, stress in her relationship which might
break-up as a result, worry about finding good
schools, conflict with argumentative youngsters
and battles with bolshy, arrogant adolescents.
Swans got a
point, conceded Julia. Shes
only at sixteen weeks. Theres still time
for a termination.
Why should she
get away with it? John said, angrily.
No one warned us. Susan and I were
told exactly the same misleading nonsense that
were feeding to Janis.
At least if shes
got kids she wont have to face the covert
hostility of other parents, Sally reminded
us. The couple next door to me chose not to
have children. They spend their whole lives doing
what they like and having fun. I hate them.
agreed Julia, thinking of the damage caused to
her home last weekend during the fifteenth
birthday party of her son.
Of course I secretly
do what I can to get even, continued Sally,
- damage to their cars, vandalism to their
house, that sort of thing.
I think that those
who choose not to have children should pay tax at
ninety percent and spend eight months each year
in a forced labour camp, bemoaned John.
I later encountered Janis
in the car park. Its great for you
that youre having a baby, I lied.
I bet itll be fantastic. A
thought suddenly occurred to me. Did you
believe in Father Christmas when you were a child?
Until I was ten,
How did you feel when
you discovered that it wasnt true?
A bit disappointed,
she admitted. Still, it was fun while it
lasted. As an adult you dont get the chance
to live a fairytale. Its made me wiser
though, she joked. Im not
getting caught like that again!