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'My daughter's substitute teacher told her a Christmas truth that horrified her and me.'

How do you imagine your children finding out that Santa isn’t real? Maybe, as they’re getting a bit older and asking questions, you’ll sit them down, look into their eyes and gently, sensitively explain the spirit of Christmas?

Or maybe a substitute teacher will come in and announce to your child’s Year 1 class that Santa isn’t real, neither is the Easter Bunny, and there’s NO SUCH THING AS MAGIC. AT ALL.

That’s what happened to Lisa Simek’s daughter Emilia and her class in New Jersey last Friday. Simek took to Facebook to explain what had happened.

“A substitute teacher asked the kids which holiday was coming up, and when somebody answered ‘Christmas,’ she proceeded to just completely unleash on them,” Simek wrote. “She told them Santa isn’t real and parents just buy presents and put them under their tree. She told them reindeer can’t fly and elves are not real – Elf on the Shelf is just a pretend doll that your parents move around.”

Speaking of Christmas, the internet had blessed us with ‘Christmas eyebrows’. Post continue after video.

The substitute teacher didn’t stop there.

“The Tooth Fairy is not real because Mum or Dad just sneak into your room in the middle of the night and put money under your pillow,” Simek continued. “Same goes for the Easter Bunny. She told them magic does not exist. There is no such thing as magic anything.

“A grown woman tried to crush our six-year-old’s spirit, along with the spirits of the other 22 kids.”

Simek said she and the other parents were doing “damage control”.

“But coming from an adult, this is definitely the kind of seed that was planted deep inside of their sceptical, perceptive and inquisitive minds,” she added. “Praying for a Christmas magic miracle to keep these kids believers for as long as possible.”

Listen to Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo discuss talking to children about racism in parenting podcast This Glorious Mess.

The people who responded to the post were, mostly, horrified. Many called for the teacher to be fired, or banned from ever working with children again. Some said she must have a “mental issue” and should be sent to therapy. Several suggested that a lawsuit might be the way to go.

Others gave advice about what Simek should say her to her child.

“I would have told my six-year-old that the teacher was lying and that she was a bad person,” said one.

Some went even further.

“I’d like to take that B*TCH out behind the woodshed, tie her up with barbed wire and beat her with a cattle prod,” a man posted.

Okay…

Some people shared their stories of similar things happening to them.

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“Our pastor did this one night at a Christmas service,” a woman remembered. “My kids were in the service and all turned to me and started crying. I had to do damage control too, and tried to use the ‘believing in things we can’t see, like God’ explanation.”

There were a few people who tried to present the other point of view.

“Kids find out a lot worse crap in school than just the simple fact that Santa isn’t real,” pointed out one man. “Nobody should ever get angry at someone for speaking the truth. I know wrestling is fake, but I can still enjoy it.”

Wait, what? Wrestling is fake?

It’s tricky. I’m not a fan of Santa myself, and I’ve never told my kids that Santa is real, but I certainly wouldn’t tell other people’s kids that Santa is fake. It’s not so much about what the truth is here, but more about the impact of the substitute teacher’s words. If she deliberately chose to say something that she knew would cause distress to children and their families, then she did the wrong thing.

There is a happy ending to this story, kind of. Simek later edited her post to add that as a result of the story going viral, Casey Daniel, an English teacher at a nearby high school, had got in touch to say her class had volunteered to write “individual, personalised, whimsical letters from the North Pole” to the children in Emilia’s class.

“A great big THANK YOU to this wonderful woman and her students for taking the time and having such big, kind hearts,” Simek added. “Christmas magic is REAL.”

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