Naughty or Nice?

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Holidays, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting | 2 Comments »

Last week I took Paige to my favorite Mexican restaurant. I was looking forward to a lovely mother-daughter lunch. We would chat. We would eat delicious food. We would bond.

But instead, she was from hell.

She squirmed. She whined. She sat up straight (at my repeated urgent requests), then slid down the padded booth under the table and onto the floor. And she didn’t take a single bite of her food.

If my mood at the time were to be reflected in some physical manifestation it would have been an immense dark mushroom cloud of anger bursting forth through the top of my head. Or perhaps a giant volcano erupting and spewing hot lava, sending innocent onlookers running.

Yeah, I wasn’t so pleased.

And the fact that we were sitting next to a cute couple who were attempting to conduct an adult conversation only underscored Paige’s wretched behavior. Our table-neighbor and her husband were discussing how to manage his aging mother, while Paige lay prone across the booth extending her arms overhead and kicking her legs. The guy would be mentioning something about their holiday shopping list and Paige would bellow at me, “I don’t WANT black beans!”

If before walking into the restaurant those two were planning to have kids, I’m guessing they’ve since had a change of heart.

At one point, in an effort to distract Paige from wreaking further havoc, I asked her if she knew how Santa managed things up at the North Pole. It seems absurdly old school—keeping paper lists instead of, say, a database—but my concerns about his outdated work infrastructure aside, I explained it all to Paige.

Me: “So Santa keeps two lists, you know. One is of all the nice children, and one is of all the naughty ones. Which list do you think you are on?”

Paige: “NAUGHTY!”

Me: [aghast] “Well you know, Paige, the children on Santa’s Naughty List don’t get any toys.”

Paige: “Yes they DO! Santa gives naughty kids LOTS of toys!”

Me: [weakly smiling at the couple near us] “Um. I think it’s time for us to head home…”

I love this time of year. During the holidays my life credo of “you get out of something what you put into it” goes into full play. So I work hard to bake perfect cookies, I slave over decorating our wreaths and trees just so, and I even take care with how I wrap presents, tying pretty bows on each one. Alas, the behavior of my children is far more difficult to quality-control.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: All that stuff isn’t what Christmas is really all about. What a neurotic, control-freak perfectionist. But that’s not totally true. Or at least I don’t want you to judge me, or think that about me. What I’m saying is, I’d like to control what you think about me too.

And to hear Paige—who I really don’t think people would ever describe as bratty (even when I wasn’t controlling what they say)—but to hear her boastfully claim a spot on The Naughty List, then smugly assert she’d still get toys-a-plenty from Santa? Whoa, that really chapped my lips. Or put a bur in my saddle shoes. Or whatever that expression is.

Did the thought cross through my mind that I would not give her. One. Single. Present? Just to prove her wrong? Oh yes, you bet your little lump of coal it did.

But lucky for her, I’m not that heartless.

Last week I bought some discounted vouchers to get two personalized letters from Santa that’ll be sent to the children on official North-Pole-lookin’ stationery. Although it seems a smidge consumerish to spend money on faux Santa correspondence—instead of just writing something myself and sticking it in the mail to our address—I knew the girls would be thrilled by it.

In this special limited-time window where the girls still “believe” why not have some fun with it? Use every opportunity to max out the magic?

Last year at our friends’ house on Christmas Eve they had a website up showing a Doppler-like video tracking Santa’s progress across the globe. Kate asked me about that the other day. Since we’re hosting the friends at our house this year, she was sad thinking we wouldn’t be able to see it.

So cute! This innocence doesn’t extend to the teen years, I hear.

Anyway, I went to this Santa Letter website to see what all I’d actually bought. Turns out it’s a package that includes a personalized letter from Santa (with North Pole envelope), a personalized wish list, and a personalized NICE LIST CERTIFICATE.

This, as you might imagine, GALLS me. After her maddening take on this whole subject she’s now going to get some fancy, frame-worthy certification of her very special place on Santa’s Nice List?

Here I was trying to keep the magic alive. But once this document arrives in the mail I’m afraid it’s going to become crystal clear to Paige that this whole Santa thing is just a big fat hoax.



2 Comments on “Naughty or Nice?”

  1. 1 Andrea said at 10:55 am on December 9th, 2011:

    Paigey instantly made me think of Fudge from the Judy Blume book!

  2. 2 kristen said at 4:04 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    I haven’t read Fudge for decades… Refresh my memory. What was he/she like? Or maybe I don’t want to know!

    I went to a wedding once and the bride was Judy Blume’s niece. There was a contingent of us dying to meet her, but it ended up she didn’t come because she was giving a graduation speech. Total bummer. (Of course we all let our friend know how disappointed we were. Nice friends, huh?)

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