Sunday, December 18, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

Okay, I feel I made a controversial decision this Christmas season.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may or may not have seen the video message that Santa sent to Zoe last week.  A few of you commented on it, but many of you did not.  That, along with the fact that I had at least 2 people tell me directly that they couldn't believe I'd done it to poor, sweet Zoe leads me to believe that many people have the impression that I'm a cold hearted mother.  I MIGHT agree with you, but let me at least explain and maybe we can all come to a decision together.  Maybe not, but whatever...if there's one thing that's become crystal clear to me over the last 4 years it's that guilt is one of the most common feelings involved in the mothering business...on both sides, actually...sometimes we use it to our advantage but many times we inflict it upon ourselves...hey, it's the name of the game so let's all just accept it and move on.

Anyway, it all started on the first night of our Winter Solstice candle lighting.  We were having a lovely dinner when Zoe decided to have a huge meltdown.  As she slowly calmed down, we started talking to her about how she had to be careful because Santa was always watching.  We told her that if Santa decides a kid has been naughty he gives them coal for Christmas instead of presents.  She asked what coal was and as Nathan was describing it, I closely watched her face as it slowly registered a look of panic. I braced myself for the reaction and she finally said in a wavering voice as she threw up her hands and cast her eyes skyward: "I like coal but I also like presents!!" and then folded her arms and plopped her pouting face onto them. Nathan and I both did our best to stifle our laughter but we were both almost immediately unsuccessful.  I continued to watch her and I swear to you she looked exactly as if she were trying to decide which path to choose...."Well, I could be nice and get presents, but coal really isn't so bad so I could just go ahead and be naughty...hmmm..."  Boy oh boy, this kid is something else.

A couple of weeks later I read someone's status update on Facebook saying that she's been pretending to call Santa when her kid misbehaves.  I thought it would suit us perfectly so instantly told Zoe I'd gotten a hold of Santa's number.  It was working like a charm....all I had to do was open my phone and pretend to start dialing and listening to the ringing and she would stop misbehaving right away.  One day though, she was having the mother of all meltdowns and I opened my phone and started pretending to listen.  All of the sudden she said "I want to talk to him" and I panicked.  I was making dinner at the time so I bought myself a few moments by saying he didn't pick up and that I'd try again after I got the pasta off the stove.  I decided to call Nathan's phone knowing he was at the library and wouldn't be able to pick up.  After I listened to his greeting I gave her the phone and she left him a message (instantly putting on a sweet voice and asking some sort of innocent, cute as a button question like "How do your reindeer fly?") and hung up.  I felt relief at getting through the moment but all I could think was "Okay, but what happens if Nathan is with us next time?".  So, I described what happened in my status update and asked if anyone would be willing to pretend to be Santa and return Zoe's call.

I got a lot of responses, one of which was a suggestion to make a free Santa video message at this website. (If you're interested, here is the video I made for her).  It's really cool because you can put in information and pictures about your kid so it actually looks like Santa knows all of this stuff about them.  I knew she'd eat it up, but the only dilemma I was  having was that you have to choose either the "naughty" or "nice" version.  The naughty version isn't horrible, but Santa does utter the words "Uh oh!  Looks like you're not on the nice list yet." and I was worried that it might be a little harsh.  The nice version, though was just TOO nice.  All they do is throw confetti and cheer "Yay!  You're on the nice list!"  What I really wanted was something in between...maybe something that said "'re doing pretty well, but be sure to keep behaving!"  but that wasn't an option. I made the video late at night and spent that whole night and the next morning going back and forth, trying to decide if I should show it to her or not.  I finally just bit the bullet and showed it to her, prepping her by saying I'd heard that most kids go back and forth all year and that when you do things like throw tantrums, Santa usually takes you off the nice list for a little while...I said that it didn't mean you were on the naughty list, only that you were off the nice list for a bit.  Anyway, she loved it.  She was completely mesmerized the whole was super sweet (I actually got it on film, but can't seem to upload videos from our camera to Blogger) but at the very end she totally decided to ignore the fact that he said she wasn't on the nice list.  When I asked her about it, she pretended to have no idea what I was talking about.  She is a tough nut to crack I'm telling you.  Since getting her video message from Santa, she's watched it at least 30 times and now has the whole thing memorized.

I think it's safe to say that this adventure along with the fact that I now have Santa and Mrs. Claus on speed dial (they've been sending text messages and Santa actually called and talked to her yesterday) made her visit to the actual Santa on Pearl Street yesterday one she'll probably never forget.  She brought along some carrots to give to Santa so he could give them to his reindeer and was so in awe she hardly uttered a word.  It could not have been more perfect.

SO, am I a mean Mom for having Santa tell her she wasn't on the nice list?  Maybe.  Could I have scarred her for life?  Maybe.  Does this whole thing totally contradict with my belief that Christmas should not be about the gifts but about spending time with people we love?  I'm afraid it might.  Does it clash with my efforts to instill in my kids that seeing is believing and that there is no such thing as a higher power?  Hell, yes.  There are a lot of things I don't know but what I do know is that I'm not perfect but I love my kids and believe in having fun.  Believing in Santa is magical and short lived so I'm milking it for all it's worth while I can.  I also have a sweet kid who happens to be getting very good at pushing my buttons and bringing out the worst in me.  I love her and she's super smart.  She knows deep down that there's no way she'd only get coal for Christmas...although apparently she wouldn't mind. 

Totally off topic, but I love this and wanted to show you...Zoe, Nathan and I made this together under her's our Winter Solstice she put it "So, everyone who comes can look at it and say 'Oh! It's Winter Solstice!'"

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was adorable. And, frankly, I'm a bit jealous that I won't have the same tools at my disposal. Hanukkah needs more judgmental jolly elves. :). I'm actually really sad that E and G won't grow up believing in Santa, but intend to make up for it with a healthy dose of fairies and wood sprites.