Eight year old, dreamily: “I’ve been dreaming of this phone since I was a child.”
Six year old: “You ARE a child.”
Eight year old: “Shut up.”
Six year old: “I’m telling Santa.”
I turned my head so they wouldn’t see me giggling. I never had siblings remotely close to me in age but as a parent, I sincerely miss the ‘telling Santa’ threat. Though, I couldn’t use it until the Divine Miss M was much older because as a toddler, while she was completely fine with presents from him on Christmas morning, she was otherwise terrified of the Big Guy. I learned early on to avoid putting her on his lap for the obligatory Christmas photo. There is a picture from when she was almost one and it shows a red-faced, tear-streaked child proving that she possessed the strongest set of lungs in the free world. More memorable, though, was when she was around three and I had the
brilliant idea to just wander over and speak with Santa Claus while I held her. When I told her my plan and headed in that direction, she immediately grabbed the sweatshirt of the man nearest us – a complete and total stranger – and started screaming, “Help! Help me!”
Mortifying. Needless to say, I nixed that idea quickly. It was years before she spoke to Santa through any medium except letters and once on the phone (the teenage son of one of my mom’s close friends hilariously played him).
Obviously, with that kind of innate fear already present, I couldn’t pull the ‘Santa is watching’ card until she was older. I think I got cheated out of a few years of good December behavior. I’m not sure exactly when she got over her fear but I do have a few photos of a smiling, happy child on Santa’s knee. All too quickly though they don’t blindly believe anymore. One of my less than stellar parenting moments came in Second Grade when she said kids at school kept telling her Santa was your parents. In my dismay of the Santa illusion being over, and with it a little piece of innocence you never get back, I said, “Those children were probably naughty all year so their parents had to do it.” I’m going to take a wild guess and say that probably isn’t an answer recommended by any child professional. Never mind, though, because she wasn’t to be fooled for long.
In Third Grade, we’d begun reading the Harry Potter series. That December she asked me if I believed in magic. In light her obsessive adoration of the series, and my desire to be a good, conscientious parent, I felt compelled to answer something along the lines of not believing in it literally but for stories and imagination. In reality, I was less good parent and more a lamb being led to the slaughter when her next question was, “If you don’t believe in magic, how do you believe in Santa Claus?”
I fumbled for some answer but of course, the day eventually came when she no longer believed. Unfortunate because at almost thirteen, I could really use that kind of threat now more than then. It feels more acceptable to say some third-party might not bring you presents than to say we’re not going to give you anything for Christmas if you keep acting like this. Though, this is the first year her behavior has prompted me to seriously ponder such a threat and mean it. I suppose it’s good they’re still cute and pull at your heartstrings while they sleep, almost as much as they did when they were little. I’ll just have to peek in on her on the night of Christmas Eve before we drag out the loot. But I plan on her doing a scavenger hunt to get her main present – it will be fun and the fact she’ll have to work for it is just an added bonus.