Where is Santa?

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

Where IS Santa?

That's a question I always hear in the first grade classroom at Christmas time. In fact, just today - during lunch - I heard Stevie, one of my kiddos, ask his buddy this very question.

EVERY YEAR one of my first graders asks ME about Santa, too. So, I was glad that he wasn’t talking to me! But I WAS eager to hear how his classmate responded ...

Huh? Where IS Santa?

Not skipping a beat, Weesie responded. “I know where he is! 'Cause he lives on my road!”

Stevie paused and gulped bravely. “No, he don’t! He lives at the North Pole. EVERYBODY knows that!”

Weesie chomped on her green beans and calmly continued. “Yeah, and I know where he keeps ALL the presents.”

Well, needless to say, she had everyone’s attention now, including mine. Everyone leaned in to listen.

“See,” she said. “He has a big, BIG SHED and it’s filled up with big, BIG boxes.”

Stevie grumbled, “That girl's full-a-bull!” But I could see a squint of hope in his eyes.

Martin's eyes bulged. “How do you KNOW them boxes is PRESENTS?”

“Easy,” Weesie said. “I went over there with my daddy. And we told Santa we wanted a clothes-washing machine … ”

"Did you git it?" Martin asked.

Weesie nodded. "It was in a BIG box. In the shed ... with all the other Christmas presents."

“Where do you live?” Somebody yelled. “I’m coming over thar!”

Then, all of kiddos in hearing range agreed and said they were coming over, too.

What fun it was to imagine that a big shed filled with boxes is where Santa lives and stores all of the Christmas gifts ... And all of it was RIGHT HERE in our little town!

I'm always amazed at how easy it is to convince others to believe everything you say whenever they WANT to believe everything you say.

As for me, I was thinking about taking a ride over there myself, just in case.

Avoiding the question - Where is Santa?

Later, today ...

One of our new vocabulary 1st grade words was watch.

“Remember,” I said, “some words may have MORE THAN ONE meaning.”

I wrote the word, watch on the board. “The word - watch - has more than one meaning.”

Great. Everyone was listening.

“Listen, tell me what the word - watch - means in this sentence: I can tell the exact time of day by looking at my watch.”

Loegan waved his hand in the air. “Got it!” he said, eager to clue us in.

Problem WAS he didn’t answer the question I asked. Instead, he headed where I didn’t want the conversation to go ...

“And the other kind of watch,” he shouted gleefully, “is what Santa Clause does!”

And then it happened!

You Better Watch Out!

From the back of the room...

Ben blurted the dreaded question: “Teacher, is Santa Clause REALLY real?”

Every child sat erect. And a hush fell over the room. Every eye - filled to the brim with innocence - was on me.

What to do? What to do?

Every year I struggle with how to respond. All I know is I do NOT want to touch that subject.

First, the question was off the lesson, obviously. And, besides, I could never please every student and every parent with my answer.

But I know my students depend on me to help them, so that's why I have to answer carefully.

Bottom line ... I had to skillfully nip this topic in the bud before it spread like chicken pox.

Suddenly Martin jumped up.

“Oh, you NOT gonna believe this. I’m telling you now. I thank me and my brother seen him!” He moaned feebly.

“See, we was at the store, and we was fightin'. Then we seen this man that looked JUST LIKE HIM!

"He had a white beard and glasses. And he was watching us.

"So I told my brother, ‘Stop! Thar’s Santa Clause! You better watch out. You better be GOOD!’”

Where is Santa?

Ben was intrigued. “Was your brother good after that?”

Martin touched a swollen, red spot. “See? This here's whur I got my beat-up eye.”

“Ooooooooh,” everyone said and was interested in Martin’s shiner story. For now.

You Better Be Good!

Later, my 1st graders watched as I plugged in the Digitool, a small math computer.

I teased them – as I often do — by using an accent whenever I spoke.

“Just one mo-mento. And I shall teach you how to operate zish new machine.”

“She’s talking French,” Loegan said, knowingly.

“I know French, too!” Martin insisted. He prissed around the table at the math center, acting silly. “You better watch out. You better be good!”

Ben spun around, looking everywhere. "Why? Where is Santa?"

“Not here!" Loegan laughed. "But he's COMIN' TO TOWN!”

That was Ben's cue. “Is that right, Teacher?" He was following right behind me now. "It is? It ain't? Idn't it?"

Pretending to be disinterested, I shrugged. “That’s what the song says." Then, patting his little head, I said, "But if I were you, I’d ask my momma.”

Quickly, I cleared my throat and used a firmer voice. “NOW, class, it’s time for bathroom break. Stand, and we’ll line up QUIETLY. Row one.”

I say let the parents struggle with how to answer that because I’m not sure. But I am wise enough to change the setting - or whatever it takes - whenever they start asking questions like, Where is Santa?

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