I have guilt because the following is the Peanut's belief system, and the responsibility for it rests on my wife and me.
"Marina and I were at school today." Marina is her best friend at school. They talk a lot." Marina and I were at school today and we were talking about what happens when you die--
"You were talking about when you die?"
"Yeah and we think that when you die that's it you're just dead and there is just nothing."
"What? You guys were talking about death and you think when you die there's nothing?"
"Yup that's what I think. I think you die and then *shrug*, that's it."
This is pretty much verbatim the conversation I had with the Peanut as we took advantage of a particularly sun spalshed afternoon to make a stop at the playground on the way home from school. Certain and unfazed by the absolute end, the Peanut hangs lightly by her legs from the monkey bars.
At first I allowed myself to wonder whose ideas these were. Is my little fairy princess the existential boogeyman of kindergarten room 8 or was it her friend Marina?
That question was answered for me a few days later when she told me that in school that day during recess she had been spreading her secular gospel of the damned throughout her class. She had told Alexis and Velma about the end of existence. The lack of eternity. And, "we all agreed." And lo the Peanut spoke from the monkey bars on high, and proclaimed that death is final, and saw that it was good. And the people followed.
Meanwhile, the existence of Santa has been confirmed.
"Sometimes Marina and I talk about the Grinch and we wonder if he's real."
I shrug. "Oh yeah?"
She grins. "Yeah. Nobody knows. But Santa is real though."
So there you have it. The afterlife is a dream, but Santa is definitely coming and, in the Peanut's head, he's probably part fairy.
And I feel guilty about this in part at least because I'm an atheist. Let me qualify that a little. I'm not anti-god or even anti-religious. How can I be? I'm an atheist. I can't be anti something I don't believe in. I mean I could, but what's the point? Religion isn't evil and it isn't divine, it's human.
Yet there it is. Faith Denied. So it really feels like lying when I play up Santa. Really really. Who am I to derail my tiny philosopher from her search for truth with my silly, mythical bullshit?
I'm her dad, that's who. And I guess if I've thus far failed her in terms of allowing her the room to experience religious faith, the least I can do is give her the space and encouragement to believe in a magical fat guy with genius Elven slaves and a sleigh that travels at near light speed solely through the power of reindeer farts. And also fairies are real. And the Glass Ceiling isn't.
Merry Christmas Everyone!