A cautionary Christmas tale of Santa and subterfuge

24 Dec

A cautionary Christmas tale of Santa and subterfugeSo, last year at the zenith (or the nadir, depending on what angle you are observing from) of L2’s 2011 ‘challenging’ behaviour, arrived Christmas. Enervated by the whole experience, I saw a parenting get-out unfold. If he wouldn’t listen to me, surely he’d listen to the man in red, the reindeer rider, the giver of all that’s desired (rather than the overdraft, which as we all know is the truth here).

Spotting my chance, I wrote, in ‘highly disguised’ capital letters, an impassioned plea from his Royal Presentness, indicating that this year’s stocking only arrived via Benefit of the Doubt and next year’s would be suspended if behaviour did not demonstrate a marked improvement.

I’d forgotten two things. Firstly, for a four/five year old, a year is a quarter / fifth of their life, so what gives a year Mummy? I can behave like a whirlwind of chaos until mid-December, because there’s still aaaaagggeeeessss to go, buoyed by self-denial and a conviction that “he will come, because if he didn’t, I’d cry”.

Secondly, L1 is sussed, she’s smart, and as a sub-category of this point, I have terrible writing. Honestly, it’s beyond bad. Whole swathes of vowels and consonants laid flat mid-word with a dip approximating to a ‘y’, maybe a ‘g’, or possibly a ‘p’, is the average pattern. Patient team members turn A4 every which way before coming to me to ask, ‘what does that say?’. I can often only tell myself by reading the context of each word…

So the ‘card from Santa’ was found last night. I read it to L2 in a sort of ‘oh look what risks you’ve been running’ tone of voice, before passing it to Miss Inquisitive for a second opinion. The second opinion, when it came, was brutal in its simplicity and damning in its content. “You wrote this, Mummy”, she exclaimed. “I can tell it’s your writing”. That is, of course, correct, unless a couple of spiders have been at Santa’s brandy and had a drunken fight across the page.

Cue wild ‘behind-L2-back’ gesticulation and a quiet chat once he’d left the room. That I did write, I explained, because I was trying to make a point to your brother (cue pitying look from L1 which stated ‘didn’t really work as a tactic did it’), and obviously Father Christmas doesn’t have time to write things like that when he’s visiting, but L2 doesn’t know that, so…

L1 digested this and said ‘it’s ok Mummy, I still believe in him’. This hurt my heart, as she used to say as a little girl, because to have to state it means the doubt’s creeping in. I have thought this would be our last year when both of them believe, and now I know that to be true, like she will by Christmas 2013. Sure, she’ll cover it up from her little brother for another couple of years, but from next year the magic enters a new phase.

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