Sinterklaas and the betrayal of trust

Tonight, December 5th, he will ride the roof tops of many houses on his white horse, assisted by his Black Petes to bring gifts to children. I am talking of Sinterklaas, of course.

Although I eventually learned to love the celebration of Saint Nicholas day, I still remember the terror I felt as a small child upon the arrival of the Holy Man from Spain. Every year, around the middle of November, Sinterklaas' steamboat arrives in one of the harbour in the Netherlands, to prepare for his aniversary, like he has done for the past 1600 years. For weeks he is busy setting up the logisitics for his grand magical act, the delivery of presents to all children in the country, the night before his birth day.

Although benevolent, Sinterklaas has a past that is more terrifying than his current practices. Nowadays Sinterklaas brings gifts to all children, but that weren't always the case. Not all that long ago, only good children received presents, while naughty children were either given a spanking with a chimney sweeping broom, or put in a bag and taken to Spain.

When I was four or five years old, I was a firm believer in the existence of Sinterklaas and deeply frightened of the patron saint of children. It wasn't the spanking with the broom I was scared of, never gave that a thought, but the idea of being put in a bag and taken to Spain kept me in a constant state of panic for several weeks. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sleep, afraid to be considered a naughty child, needing removal.

I don't think I ever told my parents why I was so afraid of Sinterklaas, and I am not sure they could have reassured me that in fact Sinterklaas had given up his practice of child removal decades before I was born. For some reason, I was alway more afraid of telling what scared me, than I was of any actual fear I had. Still my parents noticed my panic around Sinterklaas and decided to tell me Sinterklaas was not real.

The same year I learned the truth about Sinterklaas, I learned my parents were not real either. Just like there was an appearance of a man proclaiming to Sinterklaas, so had there been an appearance of parents I was born to, just like all other children, while in fact I was born to entirely different people.

To this day the lies and make belief of my early childhood don´t feel right. Every year around December 5th, I am reminded that the trust I had in the two people I relied completely on, wasn´t warranted. I was lied to and betrayed by the people I needed most at the time. Ever since, I have become more distrusting, more reluctant to put my faith in someone. What if everything told, ends up being a lie?


What we owe our children

Gees and I thought it was scary worrying about Black Pete leaving coal in my shoes every year. No one told me about being taken to another country LOL....and more seriously no one dropped a bomb shaking my very foundation.

Kitty Vickers, a well known adult adoptee and adoptive parent, once wrote a multi part piece that circulated various listserves titled What We Owe Our Children. I wish I had permission to post it because it was brilliant. The answer of course is, the truth.

How horrific, Niels! No

How horrific, Niels! No wonder you were terrified. Thank goodness there is no such belief in the US. The threat of getting a lump of coal in your stocking instead of toys and treats is about as bad as it was here in the US.

As someone who was led to believe in Santa Claus as a child, I am not amused by the whole Santa Claus lie thing. I vowed early that I would never tell my children such lies and that if those around me wanted to tell their kids lies about Santa Claus, they could not count on me to play along. It is a betrayal of the trust of a child to tell kids such lies as if they were true.

As for the adoption lies stuff, ditto.

Lies like these serve the (dubious) purposes of adults, not children. And it is not pleasant for a child to find out he's been lied to--he begins to wonder what other "truths" he's been told that are also lies. And the child learns not to trust the people he's closest to, the people he ought to be able to always trust.

The boy is the father of the man. The girl is the mother of the woman. Children are people and deserve to know the truth about themselves and the world in an age appropriate way. They shouldn't be fed lies as if they were truth and have their trust thus betrayed.


My own personal beliefs

In my case, if not for my belief in God and Santa, I don't know what I would have done as a child.  [See:  Why I needed Santa and mittens.]  I didn't have faith in my Afamily... so in my mind, goodness and unselfish kindness had to come from somewhere else.

Call me simple or stupid... or a child who was desperate for something, somehow... I needed to believe there were two great loving spirits (God/Santa) looking over and after me.  Only when I got older did I see the bitter irony found in the word, "believe". It cannot be spelt without the word "lie".

As far as family members instilling the fear of being taken/sent away for being bad -- when one of my grandmothers got annoyed with me, should would say, "I'm going to sell you to the Indians."  I didn't exactly know what that would mean for me.... I simply knew it wasn't good, and the idea of being sold to strangers with a different language and culture was absolutely terrifying!

My thought process was simple:  If I was taken away and sold a first time, who's to say such a fate  wouldn't happen again?  What if living someplace else would be much much worse?  Did I dare tempt fate, or the moods of adults?  I may not have been the world's most perfect child, but I have to believe both God and Santa know I tried.

I cannot help but think the fear of not being good enough/wanted, (and sent away), is a fear fostered and adopted children feel very deeply all year round, not just this time of year when most kids are hoping they are not on the naughty list. 

Pound Pup Legacy