Paula's blog: Does she still believe?

And the Christmas clock is ticking. This year, I find myself feeling incredibly disorganised. The in- and out-of-school commitments seem to multiply as the kids get older – Christmas productions, carol singing, winter fairs and gymnastics displays all seemingly happening on a daily basis – on top of trying to finish up work projects before the end of the year. It feels particularly intense this time because as parents of a child in year 6, it follows a busy Autumn filled with secondary school visits, registrations, aptitude and banding tests, and panics that we hadn’t seen enough schools (along with guilt that we could barely remember the schools we did visit).

Christmas also coincides, then, with the feeling that our daughter is hurtling at breakneck speed towards secondary school – which has intensified our sense that she is growing up (too) fast. I watch her still so full of excitement for Christmas, and still so enthusiastic for spotting the elf on the shelf each morning, and I wonder if she does really still believe in the magic, or whether a part of her is humouring me?

Her belief faltered in year 3, when Christmas coincided with a change in schools where she was exposed to a many more cultures and religions than her previous school, and new friends who didn’t believe in Father Christmas. Tearfully, she had asked me if he was real. With a little bit of my heart breaking, I reflected the question back to her - did she believe in him? It was an uncertain yes, but she ended the conversation much happier, having concluded that he probably was real, because some children had beliefs that we didn’t have and they celebrated (and got presents for) other things, like Hanukah and Eid. Disaster averted – for now.

She hasn’t asked again in the three years since but now, in the face of heading to sunnier climes for Christmas, we have some logistical challenges that might prompt a similar line of questioning. We need to get the four of us, our holiday paraphernalia and a host of presents to Thailand - without them suspecting.

My daughter, past the age when she wants big toys and lots of stuff, only really wants scrunchies, fluffy socks and a couple of the Murder Most Unladylike books. So we’re good there.  My son, on the other hand, has gone big. So we’ll need to somehow sneak a scooter, amongst other bulky gifts, into our suitcases. I’m just glad he didn’t ask for a bike!

There’s also the return. It was ok when they were smaller and paid no notice to things as boring like suitcases, but this year they may question how the suitcases at the end of the holiday don’t feel any fuller or heavier than when we left, despite having had a fruitful visit from Father Christmas.

At the moment, I’m in denial mode and figure we’ll figure it out. In the meantime, my focus is on finishing up 2019 with projects complete so I can go on holiday and turn the emails off (intention vs reality – but that’s another blog post!).

Rachael works in communications for an investment manager and lives in London with her husband, 11-year old daughter, 7- year old son and an au pair who keeps the wheels of the house turning.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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