Ten years ago on Christmas Eve I gave birth to a huge son. It was unexpected as everyone had told me: ‘That’s such a tiny belly, that must be a little girl!’ Giving birth to Boris wasn’t easy. When I had been in labor for about 12 hours, Boris’ heart rate went down and doctors and nurses were preparing me to undergo whatever necessary to get him out quickly. At the same time Boris – over 9lbs. – suddenly rushed out by himself and decided to do that superman-style with his hands next to his shoulders (yes, there were no anesthesia involved). Boris was the first to make me a mom and he is the first with a lot of things.
Last week on a random Tuesday, I told him the truth about Santa, the Elves and Sinterklaas (a Dutch celebration comparable to Santa Claus). We would have informed him way earlier in the Netherlands as children stop believing when they’re about seven or eight years old. It’s the benefit of being an expat; if there are no rumors at all that he doesn’t exist, why would you question it? Boris is about to turn ten though and friends have already asked him if he still believes. How do you break this news to your child?
I officially asked him to come to his room where he sat down and looked at me with his big blue eyes. For a moment I doubted my decision. And then I just told him everything, dramatically starting with: ‘What I’m going to tell you is not nice.’ I shared that Santa doesn’t have a factory where he has toys made. That sadly, mom and dad buy the presents. Boris said: ‘I knew that mom, I’ve seen a text message from you to dad a few weeks ago.’ When I said that the Elf is not real either, Boris looked at me and asked, “But how does he move?” I could see him think ‘you lied to me!’ and at the same time I felt how I destroyed even this last bit of magic. He knew and didn’t know at the same time, he believed.
Boris was the first and he will be the first with a lot of things. The first to make Joost and I a family, the first to eat solid food and the first to walk on wobbly tiny feet. The first to swim and to see and feel the sea. The first to go to school, the first to cycle without training wheels and the first you share with that Sinterklaas isn’t real. The magic of a first child is that you experience all those things for the first time yourself as well (and learn from it in some cases). Boris taught me to focus, to love unconditionally, to be present and to be a child again. I’m experiencing it a second and third time and it is just as special, but Boris will always be the first.
Happy Birthday Boris!