My son Max was a brilliant 8-year-old. He was known in the neighborhood as little Jimmy Neutron, The Brainiac etc. Max would change the spark plugs in the car and build Lego towers that passed code.
Max, however, was the spoiler. When the boys on the school playground were having a discussion, with glaring inaccuracies, about where babies come from, I got a call from the school. Max straightened them all out. He was complete and correct and soon parents were calling. I wiggled out of that mess by citing freedom of Speech, the Freedom Of Information Act, the Louisiana Purchase and redirecting the conversation to the school lunch program.
“Max,” I said, “Let’s have a little talk.” His impish smile turned sweet and innocent and something told me I should have stopped right there, but I didn’t.
“What, Mommy?” he asked.
“I don’t want you to ruin Christmas for your sister.”
“What do you mean?” His face turned serious.
“You know.” (Stop, woman.)
“Don’t play with me. Yes, you do.” (Really, woman. Just stop)
“Mom, I really don’t know what you mean. Have I been bad?”
“No, honey. I just don’t want you to ruin Christmas for Morgan. She’s still a baby, and I know you always like to show off, tell her everything and make her feel stupid.”
“Mom, I really don’t understand what you are saying.” (Stop! Retreat! Stop! Let it be!)
“Don’t tell her there is NO SUCH THING AS SANTA!” (Deafening silence.)
His little eyes popped wide open and he looked straight up at me. He was an 8-year-old little boy again, and I was the Christmas witch.
“There’s no such thing as Santa?” He looked down in disappointment.
In the middle of my explanation, he suddenly looked up again. “What about the Easter Bunny?”