Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus

When Ayub came home from Ethiopia, he was missing three teeth on the bottom.  He can only tell us what happened to one of them.  He says that he fell down, got hurt, and his birth father pulled out his tooth and threw it on the roof (an Ethiopian custom).  Well, yesterday, he lost his first tooth in America, leaving a HUGE gap.

Of course, our customs here are a little different, so instead of throwing it on the roof, the tooth fairy came to visit.  She left two dollars.  He was very excited and proud of his money and wanted to look at it and hold it.  I pointed to the picture of George Washington and asked if he knew who that was.  His response?  “Yea, that my first dad in Afar.”   That kid cracks me up.

This leads me to my next question, though.  We have been struggling for some time about what to say about Santa.  First, let me preface this by saying that Santa is one of my favorite things about being a parent.  I LOVE Santa.  That being said, I don’t want to permanently scar my kids, so we’ve been debating what we’ll tell Ayub about Santa and why he never visited Afar.  He’s seen the jolly, red-suited man in stores and books, and we’ve mentioned that Santa brings presents.  No matter what, we will obviously not dwell on the “Santa brings presents to GOOD little girls and boys” since I don’t want him to think that he was bad, or that all his friends were bad, or that Ethiopia was bad.  I’m thinking there is some way to work in the fact that Christmas is celebrated on a different day in Ethiopia, but haven’t quite nailed that one down yet.   I would love some advice from those of you who have adopted older kids about what you told them.

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6 responses

  1. Ummm, I need help with this exact Santa question. No answer for you, but I will keep thinking. So far, we are avoiding it. Let me know what you come up with!

  2. I’ve been pretty honest with our boys about things that are “not real” and “just a story.” We haven’t talked much about Santa, but that’s what I plan to tell them. My question is, how do I tell them about God and Jesus?

    • Kyra – many of my discussions on subjects like this begin with “Some people believe, or some people think…” and go from there….If you want them to know about the historical figure of Jesus because, let’s face it, Western culture pretty much demands that one know at least who he was thought to be by a percentage of the population, you can go from there…he was a good man, he taught X, Y and Z. Some people believe…”. God can be described in so many ways – your own interpretation will be okay, whatever you choose to say. I’d love to toss ideas and thoughts/feelings around with you on this….good luck.

  3. I did not want to get into the santa bit last year not knowing what to do, but i can say Aki took the entire thing hook, line, and sinker. He may have seen him in a book prior.. no clue.. but I didn’t really get into who Santa was exactly. He saw one at a post office, and I practically had to drag him out of there..a long time later. The Polar Express– he was SURE that was the North Pole. He fixated on Santa. In fact, he was debating last spring whether he wanted to be a scientist or one of Santa’s elves when he grew up and planned to ask santa the next time he saw him. I kept waiting for the big questions about why Santa didn’t go to Ethiopia, and he never asked. I have heard kids ask, and that is why i wasn’t going to do the Santa bit, but maybe sometimes we overthink things (not to minimize your concern). I am just saying Aki was 5-7 years old last year and he asked no questions. This past spring when I refused to buy him a video thingamajig or an ipad, he told me that was fine. He confidently said he would just have Santa get it for him…

  4. So far M is on board with both the Tooth Fairy and Santa. I feel guilty about it though b/c I think he’s going to wonder why we “lied” to him =) But for now, he’s down with it. I think he knows the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, but Santa is very real to him and I have mixed feelings about it. He asked, of course, why Santa didn’t visit in Sidama and I said something about how people celebrate differently around the world. He’s a very intense, inquisitive kid who rarely lets things just go over his head. He asks quesitons about Santa, about the “magic” and we just gloss over the basics, no detail. We focus on the fun of the season. I think b/c he’s so excited about the presents he’s willing not to overthink it. I’m guessing this may be the last Xmas he ‘believes’ and we may have to ask him to keep it up for m’s sake. We’ll see. Let me konw how it goes.

  5. I think Meg has it right in trying to teach “different people celebrate differently’ – even in the States. In our family Santa brings one gift and the stockings. In my brother’s family Santa brings the whole shebang. In terms of “lying” to kids – I fond with my daughter that she just kind of “outgrew” the tooth fairy and Santa (mind you she was probably 11 before she did, but it happened). Her personal favorite was the Easter Bunny which she was loath to give up. (She is 18 and STILL wants to hunt eggs). Re: Jesus and God – a different answer for every faith and every family. I am a former United Church of Christ minister – and have found that different answers work for different kids and different families. If you are seriously religious, in whatever tradition you are most comfortable in , you probably have some answer. For those without a designated faith community – ask friends, ask me (happy to chat) and go with what you can live with and evolve into as a family. There are some great books about celebrating simply and creating your own family traditions that I really like. Good luck and let’s keep this conversation going? I’d love to talk and read more..

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