Local eight-year-old Marc Coleman's misgivings about the nature of his parents' relationship to Santa Claus have this year developed into full-blown skepticism.
"Marc began expressing doubts this time last year," Marc's mother, Judy Coleman, told Sterne. "It was just little things, things only a mother would notice, like when he drew a picture at school of Santa Claus with the words 'MOTHERFUCKING LIE!!!' scrawled underneath in red texta. That was the first clue that our little guy was growing out of the Santa stage."
The situation has worsened in recent weeks with the irrepressible lad now openly questioning his parents' honesty.
"I asked Marc what he would like Santa to bring him for Christmas. He looked at me and said, 'I don't know, what would you like to bring me for Christmas, Santa - oops, I mean, Mum.' I really don't know where he picked up that sarcastic tone. Bill [Marc's father] and I tend to be more spiteful and cruel than sarcastic."
Fortunately, Marc is "still fundamentally credulous" and prepared to swallow just about anything else his parents tell him.
"Bill and I had a fight the other night and afterwards Marc asked me if his Dad and I still loved one another. I looked deep into his innocent blue eyes and told him yes, we love one another very much and always will. Sucker bought it without flinching. Who's the know-it-all cynic now?"
Bill Coleman agrees with his wife's assessment.
"Yes, the Santa thing's become untenable but Marc still trusts us implicitly. He still believes in the Tooth Fairy, he still believes his dog has gone to live on a farm, and he still believes he can do whatever he wants with his life if he just puts his mind to it. We can probably string him along with that last one for at least another decade. Best of all, Marc still believes in his good old Dad. Just the other day I promised I'd play cricket with him after work. Of course I forgot and went to the pub instead, but when I got home there was Marc sitting on the front porch in the dark with his cricket bat waiting for me. Brought tears to my eyes it did - this kid really will believe almost anything!"