Last week, I met my co-workers from Friday Playgroup Inc. in midtown Kansas City. We went to the Union Station to see the massive holiday train exhibit, then trekked over to the Crown Center to gawk at Gene Simmons' tour bus, eat lunch at Fritz's and to meet Santa in the Crayola Land.
Mr Claus.... St. Nicholas..... Father Christmas.
Yes, that guy.
Right out of the gate, Anjali was adamant about not greeting the Great Red One. She was not upset and did not cry because I did not push it. I gave her the choice and she firmly said "No.", then ran off to play. Arun wavered a bit because at the wise old age of 4, is well aware of how this particular scam works - if he does not actually tell Santa what he wants, then Santa will not show up on Christmas Eve. He bravely faced Santa, then sort of sat beside him. I heard him quietly telling Santa what he would like - "a squishy T-Rex like the one Lucy chewed up and a microphone". I thought he was finished, but then I heard him say, "and my sister wants a triceratops and a tea set."
Without prompting, he had remembered to plead his sister's case.
Recently, Shaken Mama had a lovely post about Santa being a "morality booster rocket." I think she makes a nice point about havng Santa as a part of one's childhood holiday tradition and uses a valid literary example - Pinocchio.
I was thinking about Santa. And I realized, "We're trying to trick Chebbles into being good."We do not push the Santa Thing too hard around here. Arun knows that Santa will bring a few things and that is about it. However, after reading Shaken Mama's post, I did add some bits about "being good" to the Santa Thing. I do not use it as a threat and there no Elf on Our Shelf. Besides, I have never cared for vague statements about "being good". I simply added some specific measures to the Barometer of Goodness. I decided that having Arun know that Santa rewards kids who listen to their parents and share toys with their sisters is not necessarily a bad thing.
And I decided that this is what you are obligated to do while a child is developing a conscience -- make good behavior a habit by creating fictional constructs which a child will shed when he or she is older, when the reason to behave in our society is clearer in their mature mind.
I will probably never have this parenting thing figured out. Just when I think I am on the right path, these two little hooligans begin lobbing curveballs at me. But last Friday, as I heard my boy politely and quietly ask Santa for some toys for his pesky little sister and for all the other times I see Arun ask for an extra goodie for his sister of whatever he is being handed, I knew that I must doing a few things right on occasion .... some of the time..... once in a very great while.......
And I just have to hope that is enough.