Tuesday I worked with the first graders. We did a lot of reading and testing of sight words. After recess I read them a story.
The book was about Groundhog Day. A groundhog sets his alarm for February 2 and goes to bed for the winter. Except he can't sleep. So he takes a walk and sees things he has never seen. In October he sees children in costume, corn stalks, witches. A witch flies him home, puts him back to bed, and he still can't sleep. November another walk, and a turkey flies him home.
Now these children accepted a witch on a broomstick flying, but not a turkey flying. They all knew turkeys can't fly. (While large domesticated turkeys are generally unable to fly, smaller, lighter domesticated turkeys known as heritage turkeys and wild turkeys can fly. In domesticated turkeys the ability to fly depends directly on weight, while even heavy adult wild turkeys can fly well enough to avoid predators by taking off and flying up to 100 yards (91 m) and perching in tree branches. Wikipedia)
And those of us of a certain age remember the famous WKRP turkey drop. Or look here for the whole show.
And in December another walk, and guess who flew the groundhog home, Santa Claus.
Now the question. One of the little girls asked me, "Is Santa real?" And the other children started giving their opinions: of course he isn't, yes he is, my Mother said. . . I hushed them all. And thought hard and fast. This could destroy some of the children if I word the answer wrong. Ms H was in the back of the room looking at me and I think a little worried.
I gave the answer I have given first graders since my first class in 1965. "As long as you believe in Santa, he exists."