Santa’s not coming to our house this Christmas. Earlier in the year we decided to drop the bomb and tell “J” the truth. It’s been a long year. Telling “J” the “truth” about Santa has been an eye-opener to us about where “J” functions.
Like many people with special needs “J” really struggles with conceptualizing. He is extremely literal. Wrapping his brain around the fact that Santa is not “real” has been nearly impossible and has given us so much insight to how his brain works and how he understands the world around him.
The idea of “pretend” or “make believe” is very difficult for “J”. This is why when watching cartoons he will often ask to go there, unable to decipher between “real life” and “pretend”. Since hearing the news of Santa “J” has repeatedly asked us why there is no more Santa, and who is going to come down the chimney now… he seems to believe that there WAS a Santa and now the ISN’T one. No matter how many times we explain that Santa was pretend, that Mom and Dad bought all the gifts, he continues to ask why Santa isn’t coming anymore.
It’s kind of like living in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every day for the last month at least once a day “J” asks about Santa. He knows there’s no Santa, but he just can’t figure out what happened to him. It is so hard to try and find new ways to explain it to him.
“J’s” Santa struggles are sweet, sometimes funny but also sad. He is 13 and he can’t understand this. It doesn’t matter how many times we say it, or how many different ways we explain it, he can’t fully comprehend it. As more and more of these types of experiences come up in life, “J’s” limitations become clearer, and it’s difficult as his parents to come to terms with them.
We’re reaching a point in both our children’s lives where we have to start thinking seriously about their adulthood. Next year is high school, the focus from that point on out is preparing for their futures. I’ve said to teachers, therapists, administrators, etc. that ever since the kids hit their teens I have had this overwhelming feeling that time is running out.
I feel there’s a giant stopwatch over my head counting backwards and I’m going to turn around and the kids are going to be 18, school will be done with them and I’ll be on my own. “We’re running out of time.” I tell them. I feel there is no time to waste, there is so much that has to be done, so many goals that have to be met, a future that I don’t feel prepared for. It’s a really tough balance between living in this moment and preparing for the future. The truth, whether it be about Santa or our children’s futures can be a hard pill to swallow.