Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Truth of the Matter

"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true."
-Robert Brault

It is generally thought that Sherlock Holmes, that canny fellow of literature, used to regularly proclaim "elementary, my dear Watson!" at precise moments of revelation.
It is, however, a myth that ought to be dispelled swiftly: Holmes never uttered such a phrase in any of the Arthur Conan Doyle books- it found its origins only in the films featuring the detective and his trustworthy companion.
It causes no grief, I am sure, to eradicate the Holmes myth from common thought; some will be surprised while others will shrug amiably and get on with their day.
That being said, there are certain fabrications and figments that one ought to avoid clarifying: the following tale serves to illuminate just one.
I grew up in a time and place where believing in Santa Claus up to the age of twelve was considered appropriate and healthy.
My brother was aged eleven when his teacher suddenly questioned the common sense of the little people in front of her.
"Don't tell me any of you still believe in Santa Claus!" she sneered. I suppose that there had been some sort of catalyst for the outburst but it has long since faded from record.
I cannot speak for others who sat in the classroom on that day of revelation but my brother's heart was broken there and then. He went home in a blind fury, not sure who to focus his anger on and not certain which was more devastating: the myth that had been delivered to him all his life, or the untimely- and wholly misplaced- shattering of it.
We are all equipped with the ultimately useful tool of conscience as well as the ability to judge circumstances that arise.
It is not noble to undo the beliefs of others either for entertainment or to elevate one's status. Children unequivocally assume that their teachers possess authority, and as such it is not necessary to emphasise the divide by belittling the daydreams of inexperienced youngsters or dishing out a lesson that is, in truth, best left to the right person at the right time.


Pauline said...

when it came time to be told the "truth" about Santa, the tooth fairy, any fairy for that matter, i simply disregarded the adult version (so many times adult versions failed to be "true") and stuck with what i knew to be my own truth. Santa lives.

Delena said...

I remember so well the first Christmas that I knew there was no Santa. It just never was the same after that. Thanks for sharing!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I sort of still believe in Santa.

Pappy said...

Kids figure it out on their own in due course. They don't need some cynical adult to enlighten them. I still enjoy being Santa to those still young enough to believe. Pappy

Anonymous said...

i echo pamela...i still sort of believe in santa clause! this post made my heart hurt...your poor brother!

Barb said...

How unfortunate that this teacher was so cruel to a child.

My daughter homeschools her children using the Waldorf School ciriculum. They believe adults are "keepers of the secret" when it comes to the fantasy of Santa, the tooth fairy, etc...

How special that we as adults can be elevated to such a special position. Your brothers teacher maybe would have benefited from expanding her base of knowledge and remembering how fragile and special a child's imagination is.

Once again a great post!!! B

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, -"stuck with what i knew to be my own truth." I like that. Nobody can define your own truth for you.

Del, that's a loss that a lot of people still remember even as adults.
No, it's never the same.

Pamela, good for you. Life is hard enough without losing our childhood dreams as well.

Texican, they certainly do- children are smart. We don't need to push it and make them grow up more quickly. 'Cynical' is a word I would easily use on such people.

Courtney, he was really upset, and I think those events stay with us forever. They're pivotal moments in a person's life, especially a little person.

Barb, that's really interesting about your daughter's methods, because it's not typical, not mainstream, which is always something new to think about.
That was one teacher we had who forgot children are fragile and soak up information like sponges, for better or worse.

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