Alex seems to oscillate between getting really into the whole Santa deal and asking pointy questions poking holes in the logic of the whole charade.
Alex, after being told by some well-wisher that if he wasn't a good boy Santa wouldn't bring him any presents: "Mum, last year when I was 3, we shouted at each other" (note the use of 'we', hence only partial responsibility taken for bad behaviour) "and I still got presents. So, even if you're naughty sometimes, you still get them right?" *raises eyebrows pointedly*
After pondering for a while in the car: "Mum, you know how superheroes are pretend? Well then how can Santa be real? Because it's really the same kind of thing." *raises eyebrows questioningly*
Further to example 1: "What happens to the kids in my pre-school who are bullies? Will they not be getting any presents?"
But then, when I've tap-danced my way around these curly ones ( sample responses include 'Santa prefers you to be as good as you can'; 'you'll find the present quality is better, the more of an effort you make to be good'; 'it's really about the effort, he'll know if you haven't been trying to be good' and 'people believe different things about Santa, just like they do about God, it's a personal choice in a way, you can choose what you want to believe until you find out otherwise') -
BAM - he starts explaining the Christmas myth to Maya in no uncertain terms. "Maya, the Santa in the shops is not real. He's a man dressed in a Santa costume. Only the real Santa is real." and "Mum maybe the elves are pretend, just guys in costumes, but only Santa is real?" and "are these lollies brought to us by Santa? Because they've got his picture on them."
I reckon it's partly wilful suspension of disbelief on his part - we all do it in movies, why can't a 4 year old do it with Santa? Possibly a dash of willingness/ desire to believe. I hope he can get a bit of magic out of life without needing to dissect the cold hard facts at every opportunity. Especially at the age of 4. In some ways I think his willingness to suspend disbelief in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary shows he is more of a dreamer than the kids who just buy the whole thing unquestioningly. Who knows, underneath his engineer-like surface, maybe he'll be a romantic yet.