My seven-year-old son is by no means thick. In fact, quite the opposite: he occasionally comes out with words that I only learned the definition of myself last year, and is doing really well at school. He's a nerd, basically.
Being a nerd, he likes to ask a lot of questions. Some of them are valid - the other day he asked why people have to die, which stumped me a little. Sometimes his questions are downright weird, like the time he asked how much water an ant would need to take a bath. Recently he actually asked how babies are made, which left me wondering whether to tell him the truth or keep him in blissful ignorance for a little while longer.
The problem is, his blissful ignorance is quickly being eroded, thanks to his inquisitive nature and loud-mouthed kids at school. Because he's an intelligent boy, he's beginning to figure out that this rotund bearded gentleman who travels the world handing out presents at Christmas might (whispers) not actually be real.
Other children in his class have either figured out or been told outright that Father Christmas is the biggest lie the world has ever known, and because children have a tendency to gossip they've been going around and ruining the fun for everyone else.
Because of his own reasoning and other childrens' gleeful whispers in the playground, my son is in what I'm calling the 'Crimbo Limbo' stage: the phase in every child's life during which every logical fibre in their body is telling them that Father Christmas isn't real, but they're refusing to acknowledge it because the magic and fun is just too exciting to give up right now.
It might also be a reluctance on the child's part to admit to themselves that Santa isn't real because it will set a ball rolling in their mind that could never stop. If Father Christmas isn't real, then does that mean the Tooth Fairy isn't real either, and if I stop believing in her will I still get money? What about the Easter Bunny, is that just some kind of fictional rabbit? What is this world I'm growing up in, where everything fun and mysterious turns out to be a big fat lie?!
It's the real world, I'm afraid; and next year my son will be way past the Crimbo Limbo stage, and for him a little bit of the usual sparkle of Christmas will have gone out. No one wants their kids to grow up too quickly, and when you put this hand-in-hand with the fact that having children brings back the magic of Christmas for you as well as them, the Limbo stage is a time that both parent and child try to stave off for as long as possible; and that's what we plan to do.
Poor lad. He'll soon learn that life is full of little setbacks like this. And he's going to be really confused when he finds out exactly how babies are made.
More on Parentdish: Tricky questions from children