So, and this is probably the worst slummy mummy confession anyone has ever made ever: I bunked off of Nikolaus last week.
„You’re too old for Nikolaus, aren’t you?“ I asked my teenager.
„A bit yeah,“ he answered
„And Lenny’s too young for all the chocolate,“ I said. „Brilliant, no Nikolaus this year.“
„You’re such a bad mother,“ he said, indifferently.
„I am not,“ I said.
„You are too,“ he said. „Germans give their grown-up kids Nikolaus stuff.“
„Stop spreading fake news,“ I said.
„And calendars. You didn’t even get me a calendar?“
„Oh you want a calendar? I’ll totally get you one. They’re all half-price now, anyways.“
My second worst slummy mummy confession is that this year I bought my baby an Easter salami instead of an Easter chocolate egg. Actually, not sure how slummy this is. He was officially not yet two and German kids are meant to, religiously, have two years of absolute no sugar whatsoever (the kind of German people who break this rule are the sort of people who smoke in the bath, smoke crack in bed, and let their kids watch Disney) so maybe it was a kind of creative way of letting him enjoy the delights of Easter without Karies attacking his teeth.
One thing I always struggled with, when my big boy was younger, was lying to him about Santa. We were pretty much alone, me and my boy, just one mum and one kid, most of the time, even though he saw his dad a lot and even though officially I had a boyfriend. But we were alone together, a lot. And he had no brothers and sisters, and I dunno – the lie just seemed big in my mouth. I felt uneasy lying to him. I felt like, my mother, and my stepdad, and my little brother and my little sister, all of us in our London house with its carpets and its sofa and the TV always on, the lie got kind of soaked up in the hustle and bustle of family life. But me and my boy, speaking English together, in a German world, in a cold Altbau apartment, with its wooden floors and lonely sofas which didn’t match, the lie seemed bigger and more direct. I felt like I was literally lying to him. I felt like I was literally saying to him: „There is a man, an old man, with a white beard, who gives you presents, he flies in a sleigh, he’s got a reindeer called Rudolph, only sociopaths know the other reindeers‘ names, Dasher or something, I dunno,“ and that this was an actual lie I was actually saying, I was actually lying into his face.
And when he found out, he felt betrayed too. He was only six or so when he worked it out.
„Does the Christmas man really live or are you it, Mum?“ He asked me sternly, in his funny German-English. At first, I didn’t understand what he meant – I had to translate it into German in my head – lebt der Weihnachtsmann wirklich, Mama, oder bist du es?“ Once I had translated it, I started to laugh and once you laugh, the game is up. He knew, and he was devastated. WHY DID YOU LIE WHY DID YOU LIE he shouted at me, sounding like an olden days American.
More and more parents – and not just trashy ones, either, but respectful, positive ones – are making the decision to tell their kids the truth about Santa. I don’t know if I can bear to do this or not. Part of me feels that lying to children isn’t quite as disrespectful as lying to adults. They believe in fairies and stuff, they think the smurfs are real and that angels live in the clouds. I feel like it’s a tiny bit disrespectful to kids to constantly tell them what is real and what isn’t, especially because reality can be so fucking ugly sometimes. But mainly I feel like it’s too much pressure on a kid, to tell them the truth and expect them to keep the secret. And so the lie lives on, and on, and on. Still. I am glad I had one year off of Nikolaus. I don’t want you to think I am badly integrated or anything, but I kind of hate that half-arsed Santa more than Germans hate garlic. BAH HUMBUG!