Thursday, December 10, 2009

So Be Good for Goodness Sake

As a kid I remember my mother starting in the Christmas threats at the end of October. If I didn't behave, Santa was going to cross me off his list. I was pretty savvy and figured out at a young age that this wasn't going to happen. I was an only child and I had a mom who liked to shop. Truly an ideal situation.

Now that I'm an adult with children of my own, I find myself using the same threats. My threats have extra punch because my kids' birthdays are all in November and December. Birthdays I have more leverage because the kids know who the presents come from. Christmas is a little different. I've got the Big Guy to contend with.

Last night my youngest told me she hated me. I committed the unpardonable sin of dismantling her fort in my family room, the one I had repeatedly asked her not to build. So of course I got to mention how Santa would like hearing those words. She quickly backpedaled on the hate thing although she still claimed I was falling in the motherhood polls.

And that is the crux of the situation. What I consider bad enough behavior to threaten the kids with is not on the same scale as theirs. Apparently bad behavior is murder or armed robbery. Those things might get you skipped by Santa unless there were mitigating circumstances. Smacking your sister or not picking up your toys are perfectly acceptable crimes. Because my kids are savvy as well. They've yet to wake up on Christmas morning to find the space below the tree empty. They have two parents who love to shop. Particularly toys. When my son was little, I was a sucker for Lego kits and Hot Wheels. My girls get those Barbie toys my mother never got me. My husband is also a sucker for cool toys so the both of us reward the child inside us by giving the kids too much.

Which is not to say I have never held back. There have been Christmases where toys were kept in the closet and returned after the holidays or used for birthday presents for their friends, but all in all, they are still overindulged.

However, this year I have found some changes. The two kids who have figured out who Santa is have been doing a little extra. My son emptied the drying rack and offered to cook dinner. The girl folded her own laundry and moved it upstairs. They are going out of their way to ingratiate themselves. I'm going to enjoy while it lasts.

Have you used Santa as a tool for modification? Has the Jolly Old Elf made himself useful in that way? Have you ever followed through on it?