Sunday, August 7, 2011

Judy Blume, how could you?

If there is one thing that Delaney and I have in common, it's our love of books & reading. I have read to both girls since the day they made their way into the world. Delaney learned to read before she went off to Kindergarten and I'm struck by how advanced and how well she can read. Something new she started over the summer was taking an interest in reading "chapter" books. While she still enjoys books with pictures in them (she is only 6 I keep reminding myself), she has really taken to reading snippets throughout the day and marking her place with her trusty bookmark. The first book she tackled was a Winnie the Pooh book that had well over 100 pages. She read it nonstop and finished within 24 hours. Sometimes when I'm taking a minute to myself to read, she'll grab her book and curl up beside me to read her own book.

At night we've been setting aside a special chapter book to read together when I put her to bed. Our most recent pick was a favorite of mine from childhood that I saved for my girls. Superfudge by Judy Blume. Delaney allows me to read it to her which is nice considering I haven't been able to do so since she started reading for herself. Last night we opened it to Chapter 10 ~ Santa Who? Right there that should have sent up a red flag. Course I haven't read this book since middle school so I couldn't friggin remember what happens. So I'm reading and as I'm reading I look ahead every now and again to make sure there is nothing completely inappropriate considering Delaney is only 6 and this book's target audience is probably more late elementary early middle schoolish. This is what I see before it comes out of my mouth:

"When I got home that afternoon, I cornered my mother. "I don't think it's a good idea for you to let him go on believing in Santa. He thinks you can get whatever you want by just asking. He doesn't know about people who can't afford to buy presents. You should do something about that. After all, you told him about where babies come from. How can a kid that knows where babies come from still believe in Santa?"

"I don't see what one thing has to do with the other," Mom said. "But I do agree that sooner or later he'll have to learn that Santa is just an idea." She sighed. "But for now, he's so enthusiastic and the idea of Santa is just so lovely that Daddy and I have decided it can't possibly hurt. So please go along with us for a while, Peter."

When I saw what was coming, I started a coughing fit which was part real (because I was caught off guard) and part fake as I needed a diversion. Delaney didn't seem to notice that we skipped most of that page so I read on thanking God that I caught it in time. We come to the end of the chapter when I start to read and stop. This is what I see:

"All that Santa stuff..."

I put down my instruction manual and looked at him. "What do you mean, all that Santa stuff?"

"I know there's no Santa," he said.

"Since when do you know?"

"Since always."

"You don't believe in Santa?" I asked.

He laughed. "No...not ever!"

"Then why..."

"Because Mommy and Daddy think I believe in I pretend."

Oh holy shit! And Delaney is peering over my shoulder to see why I've stopped reading. I snatch up the book and back away towards her door.

"What's wrong mommy? Why aren't you finishing the page?"

Now I hate to lie to her but the thought of her magical-I-believe-in-Santa face going away forever bears too much for me.

"There's a bad word on this page and I don't want you to hear it."

"But isn't that a kids book?"

"Yes it is." Shit. "It's just that it's written for older elementary kids and you're in the younger elementary grades making it inappropriate for you to read." Gulp. Is she seeing through me? I feel like I'm sweating a bit. Actually more than a bit.

"Oh. Okay."

She goes downstairs to kiss Doug goodnight. I have taken Superfudge out of her room because I know she will definitely go back and read what I have skipped if left in her clutches. Another reminder to me that while Delaney is extremely mature for a 6 year old, letting her read a bit more mature book almost cost us both something that we would never be able to get back. The innocence and sweetness that comes with believing with all your heart in Santa Claus. To think we almost lost that, makes me want to cry.

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