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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Santa Saved My Sanity

I will be very sad when Santa finally comes and goes this year, because (brace yourself) I have been shamelessly using his good name to keep my just-turned-five year old in line for at least three months. We all love and appreciate the parenting tools implied in the lyrics "You better watch out!" and I am no different than any other mother out there. When it comes to things that may coerce my kids into cooperation, I'll try about anything.

But I put a new spin on Santa threats this year. And can I just say that the success rate is through the roof? This has got to be the best mom-deceit scheme I've ever come up with for keeping little people in line. If only I would have thought of it way back when the first two were still susceptible to these kind of tactics - September (which is really just about as far out as you can go with the whole "Santa's watching" bit) to December would have been my favorite time of year for more reasons than just the Fall fashions.

It all started with C's fits. I know you're all about to be shocked (and I'm SURE none of your children would EVER act like this), but he is known for throwing fits when things don't go his way. One moment, he will be standing there talking to you like a civilized person, and then you say something horribly wrong and totally unacceptable (like "No"). His head falls back. His mouth opens. A hideous shrieking noise issues forth. Simultaneously, as if the effort of the sound actually renders his legs useless, he collapses to the ground - always landing on his face.

And there he remains - completely incapacitated in his continuing shriek (because he doesn't breath, but just carries on with enviable diaphramatic control) - completely deaf and blind to me, and any and all threats/suggestions/reprimands/physical-removals-to-the-naughty-corner.

And then September came. And in one desperately-trying-not-to-abuse-my-child moment, the heavens opened, divine inspiration struck, and the following words came out of my mouth:

"Santa's going to bring you baby toys for your stocking if keep acting like that. Don't you know that Santa decides what toys to bring little boys by how they act? If he sees you throwing a baby fit, you'll get baby toys for Christmas because he'll think you're only two. Do you want baby toys in your stocking?"

Bingo. It was like breaking through the tantrum-force field. The shrieking stopped, his face lifted from the floor wearing a VERY concerned expression.

C: He will?

Me: Yep. You don't want a dumb old rattle, do you?

C: (vigorous head shaking)

Me: Well then you'd better get up off the floor and start acting like a big boy, because Santa's watching.

C: (eyes furtively glancing up, down, and all around as he jumps to his feet) Now will I get big boy toys?

Me: As long as you stop throwing those baby fits, and keep acting like a big boy.

There are not words to express the victorious feelings overwhelming me at that moment. Take THAT! almost-five-year-old mentality! I am mother, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!

And can I just say how many times I've used the phrase "Do you want a rattle in your stocking?" since that blessed day? It's been saving my precious patience reserves for three months! AND, the tantrums have definitely slowed down. (Which is the only thing keeping me from panicking about January and the loss of my new best threat).

So although I know many feel Santa is a representation of all that's wrong with Christmas, I would like to disagree. He definitely serves a worthwhile purpose for a solid three months out of every year, and I think I'm giving him my vote for Most Helpful Citizen of the Year.

Thank You Santa!!!!

21 comments:

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

Just wanted to wish you a blessed and very Merry Christmas! ♥ Hugs :) Shauna

LisAway said...

I hope Trying to Stay Calm read your post because it was hilarious! You are so funny.

We are big into the "not deceiving our children" thing and our kids have always known about Santa, although we still talk about him as if we all believe in him. But this post almost makes me see the good in lying to your kids! :) SO FUNNY. (and you're a fab writer.

Kelly said...

My kids love Santa and I have never thought to use his 'goodwill' for my goodwill. Hmm, genius idea I am implementing. I'll see if it works in January too.

Sue Q said...

Oh, ho, ho, I wish I could admit that I have never done this...

One of my friends actually bought a Santa Spy and put it up on her t.v. cabinet...it's the CUTEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN! It's just a little elf-doll, but one of her kids swears that his eyes moves and that he's always watching....

It's (mostly!) working for her, too!

Sue Q said...

'Eyes moves'.... thankfully, Santa doesn't award coal based on spelling!

Machen family said...

I'm right there with you..I will be using the jolly old elf as my partner for a long time. My favorite is if the kids haven't cleaned their rooms, I just tell them "it's ok, you don't have to clean your rooms, but just remember that before Santa gives you gifts he checks your rooms and if he sees all your toys on the floor he'll think that since you can't take care of your own toys he can't give you any new ones until you learn to take care of the ones he has already given you." Works like a charm...I need to find a Santa for husbands now.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Congratulations, how clever, and very funny to read about.

Annie Valentine said...

I must tell you that this totally works. She is an evil genius. You should comment and tell her.

mom2nine said...

As a kindergarten teacher, I have to admit I have begun singing "You Better Watch Out'" frequently. It has an instant reaction! I love five-year-old believers!

Rocketgirl said...

You are mammying genius! My mom is so amazing at the crazy manipulation, I didn't think I'd see its equal :)

lifeinthehighlands.com said...

Unfortunately, this trick never worked on my kids. It still doesn't. It's got something to do with Santa using the same wrapping paper and having the same handwriting as mom.

Lorie said...

You need to get Elf on a Shelf!

Alison Wonderland said...

Genius, evil genius.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

my son told me that he wouldn't believe in Santa if he didn't get an XBOX 360...so I told him I had to tell him the truth about Santa

That there isn't any elves, but Santa has "helpers" who call each and every parent to ask what to get their kids...and so if the Parents say NO then Santa doesn't get it...AND the parents are the ones telling Santa if they are naughty or nice

then I swore him to secrecy because the other parents didn't want their kids knowing the "secret"!

Joan Novark said...

What a brilliant idea! Do you have anything that works on the non-verbal set? Like, how do I get my 12-month-old to STOP PINCHING MY NIPPLES?

Just dandee said...

BRILLIANT!!!! (think Jim Carey's The Grinch!) Thank you, Thank YOu. I plan to use your evil genius for my own evil purposes!Tonight, yes it will be tonight. Ha Ha Ha (evil laugh)

Heidi said...

What a great variation on the regular "You don't want to end up on the naughty list, do you?" I'll try it the next time my 5 year old has a tantrum!

WatsonFamily said...

I am guilty of this myself, but it has lost it's steam. Unfortunately.

I love your blog stories...I am glad to have found you.

Thanks for your comment on mine.

Kristin said...

I am so using this angle. I think my kids have figured out the no toys is an empty threat, but baby toys? Awesome.

The Forrester Family said...

So is January too early to start using the Easter Bunny as the new gift giving hero...?

Kpetes-draggin said...

Jenny, Your comments on Santa makes me mourn the days when I could use these tactics. Enjoy them while you can. I can tell you that cell phone restriction/texting privledges threats have been pretty effective 12 months of the year! Something to look forward to in the future? See you tonight at Moms. Love, Kerry