Alright, how many times have you threatened your kid with Santa already this holiday season? Five? Twenty-five? More than you will ever admit? Moms, Dads, I've been there. Last year, I put my kid on Santa's naughty list.
It was not one of my finest moments as a parent. But I'm willing to bear the brunt of the trolls if you'll listen for just a moment, if you will let me spare you the pain of what came after.
Last year was a rough one in our house. First grade had taken my sweet, happy little girl and turned her into someone I didn't know. Someone who used words we don't utter in our house. Someone who talked back.
We're not spankers in our house, but we do believe in discipline. Only nothing was working. We missed visiting Santa in town not once but twice because of behavior issues. It didn't even faze her!
So I decided to pull out the big guns. I went online to one of those sites that will send your child a video message from the big guy at the North Pole for free. We've done one a year for the past few years, and she's been enthralled. Only this year, when I keyed in her information, I made one big change. Instead of "nice," I let it be known that my 6-year-old had been awfully naughty this year.
I don't know what I hoped to achieve. No, scratch that. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted my little girl back. My child who had spunk but was more or less a kind child.
I was hoping Santa would scare my kid straight.
In case you haven't guessed yet, that wasn't what happened.
The email arrived, and like years past, she came rushing to the computer screen, hopping up and down in anticipation. She oohed, and aahed over the guy in the great red coat and the long, white beard. She was grinning at me.
Until he dropped his bomb. She was on his naughty list. Santa was disappointed.
I can't explain what happened to her face aside from saying that it crumpled. Her eyes flooded with tears, her nose scrunched up, her mouth was all over the place, lips up and down and struggling to come together. Before I could say anything, she was running out of the room and up the stairs, slamming the door behind her.
I followed her up into her room only to find her on the floor beside her bed, her face burrowed into a pile of stuffed animals. I scooped her up and tried to cuddle her, but she wrapped up like a little pillbug.
Sitting there, trying to soothe my heartbroken child, I felt like I'd destroyed something. I'd taken the magic of Santa and made him cruel, broken off a piece of the sugar-coating that covers the heart in childhood.
We had guests that night, and even after a long talk, just me and her, for over half an hour, she was still hiding when the doorbell rang. She stayed up there for another hour, and this is saying a lot for my daughter. She is a people person, and our guests were my friend and his partner, who are among my daughter's favorite visitors.
This was no passing temper tantrum. This hurt my little girl down deep.
Here were are; it's a year later, and her behavior has done a 180. My spunky little girl is back. She has her normal naughty kid moments, but we're really enjoying her again.
But even if she wasn't, I wouldn't put her on the naughty list again. I lost too much that day.
I still wish I could take it back.
Have you put your child on the naughty list? What happened?
Image via katerha/Flickr