Friday, December 16, 2005

Polar Express stress

Mr. W. recently bought and the Wheezer family recently watched the movie The Polar Express. It's official. Gone are the days I can just watch a Christmas-themed movie without stewing over the parenting implications. This is S.'s first year to really get into the whole Christmas/Santa Claus thing, and it's leaving me with an unanticipated dilemma.

How much should a child believe in Santa Claus?

I love the magic and mystery of Santa, but I also want to protect my little girl. How can she believe the jolly old elf is a magical part of Christmas and yet know that she must never go anywhere with him? How can she enjoy the fun and excitement of Santa's north pole and yet maintain the level of cynicism required to protect herself? Reality and fantasy are still entangled in her 3.5 year old mind, and that scares me. I want her innocent, and I want her suspicious. How much is too much of which?

All I know is that I started out with too much innocence and wound up with too much suspicion and cynicism after an unfortunate incident with a pedophile. Instead of thoroughly enjoying an extremely well-made movie, I found myself almost crying through it nearly sick with anxiety about the lessons S. could be learning from it concerning going off with strangers. The same lessons Mr. W. and I work so hard to un-teach her while protecting her childhood innocence as best we can. There are days when being the mommy is unbelievably terrifying. The day we watched The Polar Express was one of them.


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