“Santa Claus Isn’t Real.”
I remember saying that to the group of school aged children I had the displeasure of looking after one morning. As a substitute teacher, I am well aware about “stimulating the imaginations” of the gaggle of second graders I had to work with, but this particular crop of tyrants ruined any goodwill they had that day.
The assignment was simple enough. While their regular teacher Ms. Jameson was at a doctor’s appointment, I would step in and oversee the art portion of their day. While only but a few days short of Christmas, I had the bright idea of breaking out the parchment paper and paint.
The kids could draw what they wanted and they did so. I was soon overrun with pictures of reindeer, Santa Claus carrying hordes of presents, and even a couple of snowflakes. A kid’s artwork usually occupies the valley between the endearing and the frightening, but I was leaning towards more of the former.
One child, a short, rotund boy with a cropped haircut, stood up to present his painting: A giant gift- wielding robot named “Mecha-Claus.” As he claimed the robot was the true harbinger of Christmas, (because Santa Claus could not simply move fast enough) some of the other classmates objected.
“Mecha-Claus is stupid. There’s only Santa,” one child exclaimed.
“No, it’s the post office elves,” said another.
“You guys are all wrong. Rudolph does all the work and get’s no credit,” said a third.
An all out arts and crafts fight broke out. Soon gallons of water, which was divvied out in cups to wash of used paint, was flying while crumbled parchment paper sailed through the air like missiles. Paint was soon everywhere; the children were at war. The screams of a few innocents were drowned out by the sign of full paint kits obliterating as they hit the ground. Before long the classroom was awash in technicolor.
“Stop it!” I yelled to no avail. “Stop it right now.”
The heavyset kid fro earlier spoke up. “Not until you tell them that Mecha-Claus saves Christmas.”
“No!” I put my hands in front of my face to block paint splatter. “There is no Mecha-Claus, no reindeer, and no elves. Santa Claus isn’t real!”
Eerily, the room went absolutely quiet. The children had all their eyes locked on me, with the majority of them now welling up with tears.
“Wait,” I said. “I didn’t mean…”
It was too late. Pairs of the class started to wail, surrounded by the carnage of brushes and markers. I frantically tried to come up with a way to talk myself out of this mess but I drew a blank.
Ms. Jameson’s footsteps could be heard approaching from the hall.