Sometimes It Feels Like, Santa Is Watching Me

December 14, 2009

You never really appreciate Santa until you have children. Sure, Santa is great when you’re a kid and he’s just that big guy in the snowsuit who flies reindeer and brings presents and eats a lot of cookies – which, let’s face it, basically boils everything that is great about childhood – presents, cookies, flying animals – down to its peppermint and gingerbread-infused essence and splatters a whole season with it – but once you’ve become a grown-up with your own children, Santa becomes something more. Something – some would say – better.

Santa becomes The Enforcer. A weapon, even. The Bad Moms’ Secret Christmas Weapon. Michael Bay should get on this.

Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. There’s a whole song about it, about how Santa can see you all the time, even when you’re sleeping, and how he basically has a vengeful streak that runs second only to that of God in His Old Testament incarnation: he’s watching you, and if you piss him off, you’re going to be on his shit list, and maybe he won’t, you know, turn you into a pillar of salt or feed you to a whale or drown you in torrential rains while he saves pairs of meerkats and pigeons and tse-tse flies, but he might just dump a lump of coal in your stocking, and then wouldn’t you be sorry?

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t use this on my kid. You know, sweetie, if you don’t go to bed/stop thumping your brother/release the cat’s tail/hand over the stolen cookies, Santa will know. Because he’s watching, remember? REMEMBER? And then I launch into the song, and I maybe – maybe – wag my finger a little bit at the end – so be good for goodness’ sake! – and try to not think about how that last line basically negates the whole point of the song, which is to be good for the sake of getting a good haul of Christmas presents. I also try to not think about how it turns Santa into a frightening, semi-divine figure who exacts retribution for innocuous crimes like cookie theft which, when you think about it, is kind of hypocritical given that he’s been known to lift a few cookies himself.

Yes, I feel guilty when I do this. I feel guilty because it puts a kind of menacing twist on the whole Santa mythos: presents are rewards for good behavior, and Santa is the arbiter of what counts as good behavior, and he’s a cold and calculating arbiter, wielding his list like a sword with which to cut down the dreams of naughty children. (Also, he watches you when you’re sleeping, which, if you follow any of the criticism of the Twilight books or movies, is totally not cool and makes you a stalker, which is, apparently, worse than being a vampire. Which Santa is not, of course, but he could be a stalker, and that’s a little creepy, which is my point. Anyway.) Do I want my children to think of Santa as a sort of stalker-cum-judge who keeps tabs on their every move and evaluates their behavior against some ill-defined standard of appropriate behavior? There’s a reason why we’ve struggled with the whole organized religion thing, and it has something (among a great many things) to do with the whole He knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good or you’re going to Hell business, so why would I – why do I – deploy Santa, sometimes, in exactly this way?

The fast answer is, because it’s easy, and because it’s there, and because my child – for the most part – understands the rudimentary lesson at the root of it: bad behavior isn’t, or shouldn’t be, rewarded. To her credit, she regards the whole ‘he sees you when you’re sleeping/he knows when you’re awake’ thing as suspicious – how does he see us, Mommy? Is there a camera? Where is it? Is it in the lamp? How does he see me in different rooms? Can he see me at school? How can he watch me and (insert schoolmate’s name here) at the same time? Why would he watch when I’m sleeping? I’m not doing anything bad when I’m sleeping. It’s boring. Why is he watching? Doesn’t he have other things to do? (this is a girl who will probably never understand Edward Cullen) – and so responds, usually, to my Santa-based admonitions with a suspicious glare. I’ll stop yelling, Mommy, she’ll say, but only because I decided to and not because Santa said so.

– What about because I said so?

Maybe. But I decided because you said so, and it was my decision. Will I still get an Ariel Bath Toy for Christmas?

She gets the message – there’s good behavior and there’s bad behavior, and sometimes these have a bearing upon whether or not one gets what one wants – but she’s suspicious of the medium through which the message is delivered, which is, I think, as it should be. The Santa Claus Is Coming To Town story does not, admittedly, pack a lot of explanatory force. Why obey Santa? Just because he is – supposedly – the font of Christmas gifts? Why does he get to say who’s bad or good? How does he know, really? And if Christmas bounty is all about reward for being bad or good, then why do some good people not get very much? Why do some good people get nothing?

The message, too, has its problems.

Santa doesn’t know that his authority is thin on the ground around here, but that’s okay. We’re fumbling through what it means to believe in Santa, to believe in anything that’s bigger than us, anything that can’t be seen or measured or rationalized, and I want us to fumble through that stuff, to try to hold in our hands and hearts and feel the awkwardness of it and the complicatedness of it, but also, the weight of it, the rightness of it, the compelingness of it, and to make every effort to hang on it even as it defies our reasoning and even as we suspect that we are, sometimes, doing it wrong. I want us to fumble through it. And I want us to keep fumbling. And to keep wondering and questioning and then fumbling some more.

And if that earns me a few lumps of coal in the process, so be it.

(Do you use Santa as a weapon? Or even just as a lightly wielded candy-cane-like stick that raps gently against the knuckles of cookie-grabbing smalls? Does your Santa carry lumps of coal and loom like God in the Old Testament? Or is he unfailingly generous and non-judgmental, you know, like Jesus? Or do you just avoid the whole thing altogether? HAPPY NON-DENOMINATIONAL WINTER FESTIVAL GIFT CARDS AHOY.)

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    { 65 comments }

    red pen mama December 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I struggle with Santa every year. I don’t use him as a weapon because, frankly, even if my kids got a lump of coal from me, they would still get LOADS of gifts from others. Plus, what exactly is the message: be good this time of year, but otherwise, as you were? An attempt at perfection? not doable for kids.

    Santa exists in my household as a spirit of generosity, and not so much as a “Big Brother” figure. And I’m good with that. I feel lucky this time of year (especially) to be a practicing Catholic, and teaching my children about that. Because the upshot of Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and everything else is just gravy.

    My current struggle is logistical: Do we attempt to see Santa again? Our first go was a bust. Or should we just call him?

    And I just love Emilia’s fierce attitude: I’ll stop yelling because I decide to, not because Santa’s making me. Brava.

    ciao,
    rpm
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Santa, Baby? =-.

    Della December 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    “An attempt at perfection? not doable for kids.”

    truth.
    .-= Della´s last blog ..Blew it again!! =-.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    yes, the seasonality of it – be good at this time of year, but otherwise, pfft – is absolutely part of the problem.

    And, ‘spirit of generosity’, yes, perfect.

    kaboogie December 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    We decided when our first was born to not tell our kids the santa story as a truth. I felt it was going to be hard enough to raise them in our faith without the added confusion of yet another lesser authority. We do enjoy the santa story with them, and certainly love our Rudolph cartoons.
    This has also brought it own dilemna, being, every year we have to constantly remind our kids not to RUIN it for the other kids by spilling the beans. They’ve slipped, but funnily enough, the other kids don’t usually believe them.
    So on Christmas and through the year our kids understand that they have to be good for more lofty reasons, and that mom and dad work very hard to afford to buy them gifts because we love them and because giving is FUN! I sure don’t envy the other mom’s having to hide the gifts, I’d run out of hiding places!

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    We never actually advanced the Santa story as truth – we just never debunked it. Emilia has had a pretty keen eye for ‘fake’ Santas since she was about two (maybe even earlier) which she asks about, but we stay kinda vague about the whole thing. The ‘real’ Santa is ephemeral, a spirit, a representation of something. Maybe he knows Grandpa in heaven. He certainly doesn’t live in the real world. We do nothing to discourage the fantastical understanding of Santa, because, who are we to say?

    Until there seems some need for the ‘he knows when you’ve been bad or good’ thing, and then we drop all our scruples and go nuts ;)

    Hally December 14, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    We Jews have plenty of guilt-inducing/threatening tools to use. No need for Santa.
    .-= Hally´s last blog ..Living While Fat – An American Crime =-.

    jhajer December 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    We have updated our threat to “I’m going to e-mail Santa right now.” Very effective. You’re welcome

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    We call him sometimes. Yes, we’re going to hell for that.

    Bettina December 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I love this post. We are way worse than using Santa as a weapon, get this: our kids believe that we have the personal phone number of one of Santa’s Chief Elves (we call him Johnson, why my husband thought of that name, I do not know, and am afraid to ask). Here’s the drill: when things get hairy in the behavior department we threaten to call Johnson, and eventually have to deliver, with a fake phone call from the car or wherever we are at the moment when the kids are beating the crap out of each other, or mouthing off at me. Although I am usually guilt-ridden, I am don’t feel so bad in this case, because I believe that whatever works in parenting during the nut-so holidays is fair game and since we’ve upped the Johnson calls (wait a second, isn’t that the name for a pimp?)my kids have been acting dreamy. To balance it out, at advent we talk about Jesus’ birthday, forgiveness and gratitude. And then I’m racking my brains for the next thing I can hold over their heads to keep me from pulling my hair out!
    .-= Bettina´s last blog ..Partner Spotlight: Earth Mama Angel Baby =-.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    If you have an iPhone, there’s an app for that – a Call Santa app. Yes, I have it. Yes, I use it.

    momtrolfreak December 14, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Santa was created for the same reason the old-testament God’s “fire and brimstome” personality was–to keep people in line. That’s the POINT of Santa, right?

    Great post–we are just now getting around to introducing Santa this year (DS is 3 and a half, went to a Jewish preschool for two years and this is his first year in a public preschool). It’s come in quite handy. Though you would think he’s freak out and feel stalked, he seems comforted by the “sees you when you’re sleeping” part, in much the same way as those who pray are comforted by the thought that someone is listening. Perhaps he feels that he needs a higher power to appeal to when Mom is being a b*tch. One would presume Santa is watching me as well, no?

    If so, I am so screwed.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    you and me both, sister.

    verybadcat December 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I think it’s okay. She says that she’s making her own decisions, and not behaving because “Santa said so”, and Santa as a weapon is just one of the many, many lessons that children will learn about APPROVAL. As in, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, but the lack of or withdrawal of someone’s APPROVAL is usually at stake, and how important is that approval versus your own needs and wants. Children, especially little girls, need to understand when they will decide to behave in a manner that garners approval and when (this is MORE important, I think) they are willing to risk disapproval to follow their own designs.

    All that said? My Mom filled our stockings with coal one year. We probably deserved it, but I cried for DAYS about Santa thinking I was a BAD GIRL and whether or not I was a BAD GIRL or if Santa was just mean, and at the frail age of eight or so, I came really close to turning to a life of cheap booze, cigarettes and turning tricks.

    Funny enough, twenty two years later, my life is one of pricey booze, cigarettes and dating (which comes eerie close to turning tricks more often than not).

    So. Don’t do that, mkay? ;)
    .-= verybadcat´s last blog ..Santa, Darling =-.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Approval is an interesting take on the relevant lesson. Especially the element of risking disapproval. Something to think about.

    And, really? your mom put COAL in your stocking? HARD CORE.

    jeanine December 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    i was always terrified of santa as a kid. my parents had a way of using anything that frightened me as a weapon. they had this record of xmas songs where santa sings in this really deep voice and i hated it. no suprise that if you juxtapose some of the letters Santa=Satan. lol.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    You should maybe not watch this video, then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPVNvJoljD0

    Mac & Cheese December 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Jewish, but still trying to explain why Santa doesn’t come to our house AND explain why Chanukah is just as much fun, which it isn’t.
    .-= Mac & Cheese´s last blog ..This Post Has Nothing to Do With Me. =-.

    Bella December 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    As my boy explained to a well-meaning, quite PC person who asked “what do you celebrate?”: “We celebrate a lot of Christmas and a little bit of Hannukah.” Which is to say, we have a big-ass tree (I love, love, love the decorating part, and the lights to brighten up the dark, dark Toronto days/nights) and two small menorahs. And we’re basically spiritual atheists sorta kinda (we don’t believe in any big GOD).

    So… the mish mash that is our emerging traditions around now: Santa is cool, jolly and brings presents. There’s no threat of no presents, no threat of anyone watching or judging. Mama, on the other hand, IS always watching and judging and they pretty much know that throughout the year, so they don’t actually get that ANOTHER outside figure would make much difference to their quality of life. Mama mad = Kids unhappy. That’s the general formula. (OK, there’s a heap-load of love and affection and such, but in terms of what motivates their behaviour, it’s usuallyeither my wrath or, hopefully, some level of internalizing values at some point… they ARE only 3.5).

    Then we also light the menorah candles. We try for every night. But we’ve missed 2/3 so far (oops). Once was when my husband was working late and I don’t know the words to the whole “baruch ata adonai” diddy. We don’t do presents for Hannukah… unless my husband feels like it on some days. But there’s no expectation.

    We have an advent calendar. BY FAR the most fun the kids have related to Christmas (so far).

    They go to a jewish-y preschool where they learn all the hannukah songs and give my husband and I some serious flashbacks. This is BY FAR the most fun I have (seeing two 3-year olds sing about the macabees coming to town is precious, especially when I ask them what macabees are and they say “shoulders.”).

    I totally get why people use the Santa threat. And I’m not beyond using my OWN threats (e.g., you are not getting any dessert if you don’t eat your blah, blah. If you don’t pick up your toys, we can’t go to the restaurant, etc.). The reason I don’t use Santa per se as my arbiter of guilt/threat is because I want Santa to simply be a fun, magical happy thing to wonder and be in awe about and I don’t need yet another patriarchal symbol of morality to debunk when the kids start asking me why I don’t believe in God.
    .-= Bella´s last blog ..What do YOU think? Let’s lighten up… =-.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    That’s awesome. And yeah: ‘yet another patriarchal symbol of morality’ – EXCELLENT point.

    C @ Kid Things December 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve tried to use Santa as a weapon, but like your daughter, my 6 year old has too many questions. My 3 year old is just plain fascinated and doesn’t listen to anything anyone says anyway. So while I would love Santa to have some sort of impact, he’s just not.
    .-= C @ Kid Things´s last blog ..Sorry Kids, Santa Hates You =-.

    Della December 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I don’t reemember Santa ever being waved at ud when I was little. I think my mom was more into having us be good for goodness’ sake than for presents’ sake. I always hated that song, myself. And I haven’t been tempted to use it myself. We do say things to the [supposedly still believing] tween stepdaughters like “With an attitude like that you’re asking for some coal in your stocking!” but it’s understood to be an insult [you deserve] rather than a threat [you'll get].
    I guess our Santa IS more like Jesus.
    Grace- getting what you don’t deserve
    Mercy- not getting what you do deserve
    .-= Della´s last blog ..Blew it again!! =-.

    kia December 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Santa as a weapon, harsh! Just kidding. I have no idea what me and my husband will do. We only do Christmas for him and this is before we have our first kid. We may not even do Christmas if my husband does not want to. I think Santa as the enforcer of good behavior is kind of funny in a cheeky way. I know some parents keep an “elf” around the house to act as Santa’s spy to keep their kids in line.
    .-= kia´s last blog ..my road to pregnancy =-.

    Issa December 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    My five year old completely believes that me texting my best friend is me texting Santa. Fully.

    I’m going to use it to my advantage for the next two weeks and then mourn it when it’s gone.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    See my comment above Call Santa iPhone apps. Yes, I have them.

    Jessi December 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Mommy has Santa’s number and we talk year round. As well as the Easter Bunny, tooth fairy and Marble Fairy.

    I don’t really use it as a threat, though. And I’m not sure she would buy it if I did. Frankly, I want her to behave well, but I really, really want her to BELIEVE for a long, long time. I’m weird about it. I think that one of the saddest days ever is when a kid quits believing in Santa and the magic of Christmas. So, if not holding him over her keeps her from examining a little closer, then I won’t use him for threats.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Marble Fairy?

    (yes, agree but totally about sadness of quitting Santa, but… Marble Fairy?)

    Emma December 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I love this post! I don’t recall to what extent my parents used Santa as a weapon, though they would’ve been nuts not to with four kids under age 8. Three boys, no less! All I remember is that Santa always came, even if I slipped up once in a while. Santa was reliable, and I was pretty sure that he loved me–why else would he go to all that trouble? My Santa is a benevolent old soul, and I hope that I’ll be able to keep that in mind when I have children who are old enough to flush my cell phone down the toilet.

    Michelle December 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I too use Santa as a weapon. In fact when I saw Santa wandering around Walmart, I pulled out the camera phone and took a picture so I could share with my 4 year what close friends Mama and Santa were, so that even if Santa happened to be looking at something else while she was misbehaving I could let him know about it later on. This has backfired, when I’ve raised my voice to her about various things and she has told me “Mama, Santa is watching you yell, and he’s not going to bring you any presents”.

    cagey December 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I just posted about Santa myself. Eh. I have seen The Great Red One referred to as a “morality rocket booster” and I would agree. And while I do not use him as a weapon, I did decide this year to impart that broad-reaching message of “good behavior”. For damned sure, there will be no elf on OUR shelf, but it would not kill my kid to be nicer to his sister and to listen to me. No?

    LD December 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    We totally use santa. And the elves. Seriously. I get all the reasons not to, but I’m sleep deprived and I will take what I can get.
    We also keep a Santa list during the year.
    And, there is a restaurant we go to, where we request a specific waiter. (my son loves him because they have the same name.) This waiter told him that he is secretly one of Santa’s elves. Do you know how pleasant our meals are there????? I don’t even really love the food. We go for the behaviour.
    .-= LD´s last blog ..A New Day … =-.

    Juliette December 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Nope, we don’t use Santa as a weapon. Well, I don’t. My husband and I disagree on this point and it’s a bit of a stalemate. I’d like to have Santa as “a nice little story” but my husband likes the whole tradition. We try not to undermine each other, but that’s tricky.

    Either way, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about “be good or Santa will know”. Then again, we don’t say “be good” much anyway.

    We’ve given our daughter the choice of whether to believe (well, I have LOL). She’s 4. She has chosen to believe for now. That works for me.

    Kate December 14, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Oh, Santa as a weapon, hmmmmmm… honestly I postponed christmas last year and now everyone realises that I mean business all year round!!
    My then 7 year old daughter drew a giant and very colourful spiral on her bedroom wall in felt pen and crayon on Christmas EVE!!!, whilst it was beautiful to look at (no I didn’t take a picture because that would have been encouragement to do it again) it was a rental home that we were moving out of in a month.
    So, with the assistance of my family who aren’t particularly big on celebrating anyway, I sat up and waited for Santa, and we sat down and drank coffee and had a chat about what had happened and he agreed with me that Christmas could happen the next day but the wall had to be clean first, he left my daughter a note.
    Boxing day christmas was great, but honestly, one day the threat may come back to bite you in the backside, so be prepared to carry through at least once if you continue to use the santa threat.
    Oh, should I mention that my 8 year old still firmly believes in Santa, absolutely no question, coz whilst mummy is a hard ass, Santa is truly “Tough Love”!!!!

    J from Ireland December 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Santa has always been used as a powerful weapon in our house. Now it has lightened up somewhat, as I have 2 non-believers and they make me feel like the biggest liar ever when I threaten the 2 believers with Santa. Oh and did you know that all the birds in the sky from October until 25th of December, can speak to Santa and can see you everywhere there is windows and fly off and tell Santa good bits and bad bits. So a little “Santa’s birds are watching” works well too with my 2yr old, when the older ones aren’t around.
    This post made me laugh so much.

    Heather December 14, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Santa has a big old telescope that he can watch the whole world from in his house at the north pole. It has a special lens that allows it to see through houses, kind of like x-ray vision.

    I just creeped myself out. I’ve totally said that to my kids though. Bad mom! LOL

    Heather of the EO December 14, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    I love that whole fumbling paragraph. I was just today singing THE Santa song in the car on the way to preschool. My kids have never heard it before and were totally captivated. (they’re only 4 and 2)

    Then my 4 year old asked seventygazillion questions about the naughty list, etc etc etc. I fumbled my way through that conversation just like I fumble through other faith in things we can’t see conversations.

    I don’t use Santa as a threat, but only because I’m still fumbling through the whole Santa thing all-together. I don’t deny the jolly old fella, but I don’t tuck my kids in at night saying that Santa is REAL REAL REAL. My 4 year old has asked flat out if he is, and so far I’ve deflected with “what do you think?” Yeah, that’s prolly not working. Fumbling.

    I was formulating a post about it in my head while I was thinking and driving. Then I realized it’s still too fumbly in my head to even write about. Like so many things are for an over-thinker such as I. or me. or myself.

    I will end this very long comment by saying that I quite like fumbling. Because it’s how we each make sure to stumble on our very own experience of things, what we truly think and believe. So yeah, I appreciated this post.
    .-= Heather of the EO´s last blog ..Because there’s no way I’m sending a normal Christmas card this year =-.

    pixielation December 14, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    last year and the year before my children were heinous before christmas, and I threatened that Santa would know. And indeed, last year Santa put one potato in the naughtiest child’s stocking.

    It was a shock. She was mortified. I worried that I’d done the wrong thing.

    This year, she’s been very very careful about being good.
    .-= pixielation´s last blog ..I’m a legal alien, like a prawn. =-.

    Carol December 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    When Mo was little, she knew Santa wasn’t real, she was born knowing, little stinker that she is. She proceeded to ruin it for other children, and then, one glorious day, the light came on for her and I heard her in the playroom say to her friend from up the street ” If you don’t let me play with Jasmine because she is my favorite, Santa won’t bring you any presents.” She didn’t believe but saw absolutely no reason not to use the belief of her friends to her advantage. I may have raised a monster.
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..Follow me…………… =-.

    LAVENDULA December 14, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    i just tell mine to be nice or i will call santa and tell him not to bring anything but hardly ever have to resort to this.my 9 year old said to me the other day i dont know if santas real and i said oh well what do you really think and she has been quiet and hasn’t responded back 5 year old of course still believes

    Brigid December 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Let’s see if I can get this out, without sounding like a pompous sanctimonious ass: I don’t use Santa as a threat, because I feel one has to be ready to carry through on the promise and I know my husband would sooner die than not have presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

    I think it can be confusing for a child to “know” they did bad things, or that they were bad and then still get presents. To a child who is still trying to figure out a moral compass, it muddies the water.

    I prefer to think that my children should be good/kind/mindful because that is what we teach them. Throwing in “bad” or “good” goes against everything I teach. I tend to say that they made a poor choice or made a bad decision, but not that they are bad.

    My biggest problem with the guy in the red suit is that I try to tell my children the truth to every possible question. And Santa makes me into a big fat liar, though, I try to keep the mystery alive. I hate mall Santas with a passion, and I tell my children they aren’t “the real” Santa, just helpers. So I spoon feed the lies that I am more comfortable with and look forward to all this craziness being over.
    .-= Brigid´s last blog ..lunch on a pink tray =-.

    Brittany at Mommy Words December 14, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    My 3 year old does not believe in Santa and I have no idea why so we cannot really hold him over her head. We can however hold MAMA over her head and 8 days of Hanukkah and 1 big ol’ Christmas with Grandma and that will usually do it. I try not to but it is just so hard when it can produce such lovely results.

    I don’t say he is real or not real but given that I have alwasy been sort of spooked by Santa I am happy to go along with her belief in fairies and mermaids and leave Santa alone.

    I forgot who commented on this but when she has said Santa is not real because there are too many and they all look different none of her friends believe her anyway so I think he is firmly entrenched in most little kids’ brains. Makes me feel bad for my hubby growing up. Kids must have just constanntly told the Jewish kids they were wrong. I make up for that by lighting the candles and doing the blessings every night even though he is in London. Gosh you gotta love interfaith marriage!

    Great Post!
    .-= Brittany at Mommy Words´s last blog ..We Got Our Princess On! =-.

    ame i. December 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I remember my Dad telling me there was no Santa when I was 8. He says I was having doubts,but I really don’t remember if I was. I do remember him taking me outside to the carport & whispering so my younger brother wouldn’t hear. I also being livid, and saying Well,then, I guess that means ya’ll have been lying about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny TOOOOO!
    When it came time to tell my girls (11 & 9, only told the younger one a few months ago, pretty sure she already knew) I thought long and hard about what to say.
    I came up with “You know what a symbol is. That guy in the red suit & hat is a symbol of the love parents, grandparents, family & friends have for the kids in their lives and the wish to make Christmas as magical as they can.”
    Score one for me, I say ;) We did agree that it’s a good thing the Easter Bunny isn’t real; a giant rabbit hopping around the world as we sleep is a disturbing thought.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I find the Tooth Fairy creepy, personally. Flying around collecting teeth? Didn’t the Blair Witch do that?

    sueinithaca December 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    dude, Jesus is totally judgemental. what Bible have you been reading?

    Our Santa is fairly benevolent. We don’t really threaten with him. But I don’t think my 5 year old really believes in him either, since she picks out her stocking gifts and candy herself.

    we’re also pretty much heathens when it comes to Christmas. we had a chat today about how some people believe jesus is god and some people believe he’s just a really kind and wise man who has a lot to teach us. And that it’s totally ok to celebrate the birthday of someone who has a lot to teach us, even if they aren’t god. my catholic mother is turning over in her grave right now.

    Her Bad Mother December 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    True about Jesus. But he does all that forgiveness stuff. The Old Testament God wasn’t interested in any touchy-feely forgiveness of sins stuff – he just smote. The coal-slinging version of Santa seems kind of smitey to me.

    Tina C. December 14, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    thanks for reminding me about this oh so valuable tool. last year i completely forgot to use this until it was too late. i’ll let you know if any comments result, reflecting his trying to understand st nick.

    Lee December 14, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I like to think of Santa as my wingman, some days you need a little extra help. weapon is so intense and violent – he is more just a part of the “village” it takes to get through the moment ;-) besides i have to give her something good to talk to the therapist about don’t i?

    6512 and growing December 15, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Santa as a stalker! I love that.

    We are wrassling (screw spell check) with the whole hoopla right now. I am Jewish, my husband Quaker, our kids Americans. This is our first year with a Christmas tree or even acknowledging Santa.

    I recently asked my kids (4 and 2)if Santa was real and when the 4 year old said “no,” I was like “that’s my boy!” (And consequently ruined it for the 2 year old who was inclined to believe).

    I can do the tree, the carols, but the grinchy Jew in me will not have my kids believing some fat man is wriggling down our non-existent chimney, even if it would buy me a little leverage.
    .-= 6512 and growing´s last blog ..Ode to the universal two year old =-.

    Angela December 15, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Never did Santa w/ my girl (now 13), cuz I was a single mom & poor, but not poor enough to garner help from any charities. I remember being little and not getting nearly as much as my friends and killing myself w/ the guilt that I must have been BAD (My mom is a Jew, my dad is sorta’ Catholic. I have the entire guilt thing down to a science.) With my daughter, I never brought it up. If she asked, I launched into all the stories and myths and bored her to death. Santa was a non-issue.
    My husband accidentally ruined the entire Santa thing for my son (nearly 3), if we were even going to do it (hadn’t decided yet). My husband played Santa at our boy’s pre-school recital. He was AWESOME. All of the kids were so excited. My husband is the kinda’ guy that kids inherently know is a SUCKER. It’s like he has an invisible neon sign on his forehead that only they can see. When things were dying down, I whispered in my son’s ear “Who IS that?” My little boy looked at me like I was a complete idiot, and whispered back, “That’s Daddy, Mama. That’s Daddy.” Then he patted me on the shoulder.

    mom101 December 15, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Oh I’m so glad it’s not just me. It started lightly – we would start singing “You’d better not pout…” and it evolved into full-fledged “well, we just might have to tell Santa to skip our house this year.

    Pure evil.

    Her Bad Mother December 15, 2009 at 11:08 am

    As I’ve said to a few people – we have an iPhone for calling Santa for exactly that reason.

    eeeevil.

    Her Bad Mother December 15, 2009 at 11:08 am

    An iPhone APP. We use our iPhones for other things, too.

    susiej December 15, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I used to use Santa as a weapon… now it doesn’t seem to work anymore. Now, I use cookies.
    .-= susiej´s last blog ..Christmas Disasters 2009 =-.

    Lori McKenna December 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    You betcha I use it. I’ve used it for 35 years. Now I use it on my grandchildren. I raise my eyebrows for effect too!
    My kids seem perfectly normal for the most part, and like I tell them when they question something I do or while complaining about something I make them do, I suggest they take it up with their shrink when they’re 30.

    Lisa December 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Wow, you sure have put a lot of thought into this. A lot. I see where your kid gets it.

    I can’t say it’s ever occurred to me to ponder all of this that deeply. I don’t remember my parents using Santa Claus on me and I can’t imagine using it on my kid. Then again, I was plenty afraid of getting trouble with my parents so there was no need. And I expect my kid to better well listen to me, regardless of Santa. She’s still only a toddler, so we’ll see how that goes.

    I wonder if this is a relatively new development along with the more friendly, less disciplinarian type of parenting that is the norm nowadays. I realize I am more of throwback in my views. I have no problem being the bad guy and think that if your kid doesn’t think you are mean, then you’re not doing your job. Again, I have many years ahead of me in this parenting gig, so we’ll see how that goes.

    kootnygirl December 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t use Santa as a threat, because I HATE empty threats, and who am I kidding? The kids are going to get the presents no matter what (hey, I PAID for those!), so I’d rather them be good for me, who is here to be the enforcer 365 days a year, rather than the jolly old elf who comes around in December.

    Now, I have been known to sing the song at, um, let’s say “opportune” times, to see if anyone caught on. But that only lead to some REALLY uncomfortable questions about whether or not Santa could see them in the bathtub. Not going there again!
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..snow and a memory =-.

    Amanda December 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    My mom always used santa as a weapon with us when we were kids….sometimes I wish that she wouldn’t have because we still got all of our presents anyways. My boyfriend never believed in Santa, his parents thought it was dumb to lie about his existence, I just think its all in good fun!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Just when you think its over…. =-.

    Jill December 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Absolutely not… my kids receive presents because they are loved, and that is unconditional.

    Another Suburban Mom December 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    This was an excellent post. I admit that I do use Santa. I told my son years ago that the security camera at stores were actually part of Santa’s secret spy network that tracks him and then The Polar Express movie validated that.

    I do not use Santa for the major things. If there is lying, cheating, hitting, disrespecting, stealing or tantrums, that is still handled in the court of mom and dad,where we act as Judge, Jury, Warden and Executioner swiftly while the incident is still fresh.

    Santa is for the minor annoyance, like whining in stores or in the car. My 3 year old is a little obsessed with the naughty vs nice list and her friends in daycare are now all putting each other on the naughty list for infractions both real and imagined.

    Hope you are well and caffeinated. If I ever make it up to your neck of the woods, I’m buying the espresso martini’s.
    .-= Another Suburban Mom´s last blog ..Erotica-Group Post =-.

    Paula December 16, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Santa is on Facebook too. You should read his wall! A lot of parents use him as a threat.

    Her Bad Mother December 16, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Oooh, where? Will I find him if I just search ‘Santa Claus’? Is his network ‘North Pole’?

    Ami December 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Here’s my theory (and yes I can justify anything): I use the idea of Santa to start teaching my children that Christmas is the season of love and harmony. That it is the one time of year that everyone tries to put aside their differences and get along.

    I don’t threaten to call up Santa for infractions in chores or homework (although I have been thoroughly tempted to do so). I pull him out when they fight among themselves and the “peace” in our home is damaged. Because Santa is so sad when families don’t get along.

    And to me, in a nit-picky, smallish way, this makes it totally acceptable to use the “Santa Card.” In my mind it turns Santa from a stict rule enforcing tyrant, to a kind benevolent grandfather figure who wants us all to just get along. (or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

    Must Be Motherhood December 16, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I have a friend who has offered pretend to be Mrs. Clause and call my son for a chat and a firm word if his naughty behavior continues. I am *this close* to asking her to do it. Where does The Mrs. fit into the mythology, I wonder? I imagine along the way that some puritanical movement decided that a lone man obsessed with small children was
    too creepy and had him married off to make him legit.

    Anyway. Thanks for opening this one up and reminding us we’re not alone with our Santa struggles.

    Amy W. December 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    We were going to go with the idea that people (even grown-ups) like to play a massive make-believe game at Christmas about a jolly man named Santa who brings gifts.

    Then, Henry (who is almost three) started watching all the Christmas specials and began asking when Santa and the reindeer were coming. And before you know it, we were using the Santa Threat.

    Henry has been extra Terrible as his Twos are coming to a close and Santa arrived in our arsenal at just the right time. So, I’m going with it. Maybe next year we can revise Santa’s role.

    Ginger December 17, 2009 at 4:43 am

    After reading this post, I used Santa as a weapon last night and tonight and it helped the daughter at least stay in her room if not in bed, and I needed that time to shop online for the girls’ gifts, so hey? Win all around! Wait . . the morality of it all? All I care about right now is my time, and making the list get smaller, morals be damned.
    .-= Ginger´s last blog ..Four years and two babies ago =-.

    Amber December 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I learned Santa wasn’t real precisely because my mom did NOT use him as the enforcer (and I was a spoiled brat).

    I wouldn’t clean my room and mom threatened to throw all my toys away.

    My reply: “Go ahead, Santa will just bring me new ones!”

    And then, there was no more Santa :(

    I just found your blog through BlogHer and I’m loving it already!
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..I’ll Admit It, I’m Bored =-.

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