At the tender age of five-and-a-half, my daughter has just hit me with THE question.
As I lay on her bed holding her books before bedtime, waiting for her to lay down beside me to read one to me before I read one to her, out she came with it.
"Mumma, is Santa real?"
(Choke, splutter, shock): "What?"
"Is Santa real?"
Me, trying to buy some time: "What do you mean?"
"Well, how do you know he's real if you don't see him?" she asked. "Is he real?"
The kid makes a good point. I'm not qualified for this, and she is smarter than me. Much smarter.
She probably read the look on my face and my tone instantly when I said "what?" after she asked me.
I fudged my way forwards: "Well, that's why you have to believe, and if you believe, he's real."
Luckily for me, she responded by saying: "I want this ball," which just happened to be somewhere behind me on her bed at the time and I used the break in conversation to hand her the book she was to read to me.
My husband was away, so I was handling this myself. It wasn't the first time she'd hit with a big question either.
Our girl interrogated me a few months back about how a baby got in my tummy, when I told her and her brother (3) they were going to have a little brother or sister.
I think I got out of the Santa stuff - for now. But she's sharp. She has logically thought it through and she knows it doesn't add up.
I always thought it was mean to tell kids the truth so young, but being there in person, it feels more cruel to spin them lies when it is obvious it is confusing them.
More questions are coming this Christmas, if not sooner and I guess I will come clean.
Time is ticking down until the inevitable: "Mum, how does believing make Santa real?"
I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, HONEY, I'M TOO UNDER-QUALIFIED TO BE YOUR MUM AND I'M A CRAPPY LIAR AND YES, I'VE BEEN LYING TO YOU EVERY FREAKING CHRISTMAS TO CREATE THE BIGGEST DECEPTION OF YOUR CHILDHOOD.
Somehow though, I think she will be okay with the truth. She's already figuring it out and it's not her who's not coping with the fantasy being uncovered – it's me.
Incidentally, a friend I told this story to, told me that's what Siri is for. She has different answers if you use Santa or Father Christmas - and she even knows how to respond if you ask where babies come from too. Go on, ask her.