The Loss of Innocence–In Life and the Book World…by Jennifer Probst

April 19, 2018

I wanted to do one of those professional writing blog posts again, but since it’s my space, I’m going to discuss some other things that have been percolating in my mind lately.
Like, the Easter Bunny.
Yep, we’re past Easter and the coma of chocolate bunnies we’ve all climbed out of. But this Easter was different for me, and I’m still analyzing it. You see, this was a year I’ll never forget.
This was the year my son found out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real.
Now, there are a lot of different outlooks on the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny, and Santa. This is a non-judgment zone, so whatever path you guide your children on I respect. This is my particular path I’m going to reflect on.
In my world, those fantasy figures represented something magical and beautiful in the world. An innocence that doesn’t last as long as it should. I raised my children amidst a ton of stories and magical ideas I spun—including a snippet where I found a part of the Easter Bunny’s tail in the door to prove he was real. I knew my son was getting way too old, so this year, I got ready to have THE TALK with him about the bunny and Santa. I bought a book on how to tell him. I made a speech. I practiced in my head. I needed it to be perfect because of my own horrific memory of what happened to me that I never truly got over.
What happened to me? Well, I was hanging out with a friend, who told me Santa wasn’t real, and I gave her a self-assured laugh and said, “Oh, yes he is!” We argued and she told me to ask my mother right now. I went upstairs and found my mother in her bedroom and said, ”Mom, is there really a Santa?” As I waited with confidence for her answer, a smug smile on my lips, she sat on the bed and sighed.
And ripped off the band aid. Did not delicately pull, or tug, or ease me into the idea. She just said, “Nope. Santa never existed.”
Boom. Mic drop.
I stared with open mouth, waiting for the discussion. None came. She looked pretty sad, but by then I was in so much shock, my world spinning on its axis, I just nodded and went back downstairs. When my friend asked, I told her she was right. There was no Santa.
Nothing was ever discussed again but my heart had been broken.
Do I blame my mother? No (well maybe a little bit). She said later she was afraid I was being bullied and figured she should tell me since I was so old. (I’m not discussing how old. I was not drinking age.)
Fast forward to this Easter. I’m prepped and ready, and my son informs me he can’t wait for the Easter Bunny to visit, and he feels sorry for the kids who don’t believe in him, because he KNOWS the bunny is real because I found the evidence of his tail years ago.
Ah, crap. Why do I have to embellish so much shit?
I figured I’d give him another year.
The night before, I set my alarm for 5:30am to get up and put the baskets out and hide the eggs. As my husband snored, I crept downstairs and began my chores. I had just finished hiding all the eggs when a door slammed open and my son trudged in. His gaze met mine, and he mumbled something about having to go to the bathroom. I froze in the hallway, afraid to move, and he quietly went back to bed so I thought I was safe.
When I came back downstairs at a more normal hour, I checked out his basket, watched him find eggs, and did our usual holiday routine. But I sensed something off. My son looked different. There was a lack of zeal and joy that was usually there.
An hour later, he came over to me, stared into my eyes, and said, “I know now there’s no Easter Bunny.”
Heart pounding, fighting nausea, I asked why.
He said he saw me hide the eggs. And then he said, “Just tell me Santa is still real.”
And I stared at him, all my perfectly rehearsed speeches …GONE. And where was the damn book? So, I said, “Well, he is, but not in the way you think.” And I rambled about him being a spirit and a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t remember while my heart broke at his face. I rambled, but we had to go to church and I told him we’d discuss more later.
I was tortured by this all day. When I finally sat back down with him, he brushed off my emotional pleas for him to talk to me and said he’d processed it and he was fine. He got it. He wasn’t mad at me, and he wasn’t upset.
And that was that.
I wish I could have handled it differently and wonder how he will view that moment later in life. My son is like me—full of creativity, believing in magic and goodness, his head swimming with his own stories. He’s full of FAITH. He knows how to believe in things you can’t see.
This long story has one point.
Magic—and the loss of it. As we grow up, we need to remove many of the things we believed in that have no place in the world of adults. I get it. Though, I still secretly believe in Santa—I just think he’s different from how we describe him now, and I hopefully my son believes that, too.
I think we all have those moments in life where innocence is ripped away, and we wonder if we’ll ever feel that mystical, joyful sense of wonder again. Change is hard. Growing up is hard. Shifting our illusions and what we want our reality to hold is hard.
Once, I wrote my books with a zeal and passion I will never be able to duplicate because life had not truly changed me yet. Yes, I dealt with a divorced family and an alcoholic father and financial issues, but my core was still the same. I believed with everything I had I’d be successful and famous. The gatekeepers meant nothing to me—even with the rejections I wrote the stories I craved to write, and when I read them, they are full of emotion and messy with the true beginner still learning craft. There was no such thing as being a social media expert, or mastering PR and marketing, and not only writing a great story but selling the hell out of twenty-four-seven.
I love re-visiting who that girl was and her simple dreams. Even after she learned Santa Clause wasn’t real.
When I delved deeper and began to sift through and find the magic moments I did experience later in life, a sense of peace came over me. There were many more than I thought.

The birth of my children.
When I saw Venice for the first time. And the Sistine Chapel. And Capri. Etc, etc.
When my book hit the bestseller list after thirty years of writing my ass off.
When I graduated from college with my master’s degree.
Saying I love you to a man I loved.
Getting married to the man I loved.
Holding Bella as a puppy for the first time.

The list is endless. I just needed to look again and remind myself of the things that rocked my world. And I know there’s more out there that I’m ready to experience.
Of course, this all goes back into the writing. It has to. Connecting with some of those moments and getting it on the page is the key of writing real. Writing naked.
That’s the way we keep it alive forever.
Do you have any magical moments that you’ll never forget?

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  1. Sarah says:

    You never cease to amaze me with your writing. My magical moments are the ones in the quiet of the night holding the baby or anytime I go to the ocean (which unfortunately is not that often). I can’t help but feel the magic as I stare into the sleeping face of one of my children and I always feel overwhelming peace and calm anytime I’m near the ocean.

  2. Anissa says:

    I love this! So so much. Faith is a key element in life. What’s life without faith? In small things, big things. It’s magical to find the hope and joy in little every day things in life. It makes it so much more beautiful. Thanks for this article!! I love your writing and your stories. ?

  3. Brandi says:

    Oh, Jennifer, I loved this beautiful post so much. Your desire to give your children the magic they deserve is palpable, and you are a WONDERFUL mother for it. I’m sorry you’re grieving this shift for your sweet boy … And you are absolutely right: there is more magic to be had, abso-freakin’-lutely. The most magical moments I’ve had have always seemed to be with the people I love in nature … hiking with my husband, seeing the ocean for the first time with my dad, glimpsing some majestic animal a little too closely with a friend who’s as excited as me. Or listening to a beautiful piece of music for the first time … And creating without worrying about the product … just sitting back and seeing what I MADE. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you so much Brandi! I love your descriptions of the magic – it’s so true – we are completely blessed if we just take a moment to look!

  4. Liz says:

    That was lovely, Jennifer. Let’s see – the birth of my son and all those magical moments with him as he grew, my husband–more now than ever as we will be celebrating 33 years in June, and all those little things like driving down the mountain to my job at 7:00 AM and the sun is rising big and beautiful in the sky like it’s the first day when God said “Let there be light’.

  5. theresa says:

    When my nieces were born and I got to hold them that was just one of the many magical moments I have had with them. Knowing that even though they are older 19 and 17 ugg that they still think I am cool and want to hang out with me lol!!! Also any memories I have of being with my mom those are all magical moments great memories. last but not least hanging out with you and ange, always laughing having fun even if we haven’t seen each other in a year lol

    • Jennifer says:

      Aww T – you are a blessing and your nieces are SO lucky to have the best aunt in the whole world!!!

  6. I believe in Santa, and I’ve always told my kids it’s what you choose to believe in your heart. Now 23 and 17, we still have a tree where Santa leaves presents. My magical moments are the births of my kids, the feeling when a reader tells me what my book/s mean to her, and every day with my husband. He’s my best friend. Started dating when I was 16. Just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!

  7. theresa natole says:

    Wow this brought back so many memories of when we told our 2 sons about the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa. While my one son’s response to Santa was “do I still get presents” and we said yes then he said he was fine but I an honestly say my younger son was truly devastated. But I explained to him that Santa may not be a man in a red suit but the miracle and joy of Christmas still lives on he was okay with it. Christmas may not be a man down a chimney but the magic is still there but in different way. My son’s today are 26 and 24 and I still tell them I believe in Santa and he does exist.

  8. Cyn says:

    When my son was 7 and my daughter 9, my son asked me if the Easter Bunny was real. I told him not to ask me questions if he didn’t want to know the answer. My daughter was screaming at him from her bedroom, “stop asking questions! Stop it! I don’t want to know.” It is funny how a child can quickly register that no Easter Bunny equals no Santa and no Tooth Fairy either. But you are correct, there is lots of everyday magic if you are willing to see it.

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