Have you listened closely to the lyrics of Santa Clause is coming to town?
It’s not so pretty. I had a choice to make. I could cut this song out of our Christmas repertoire or I could capitalize on it.
Here’s the thing. I am half French half American. And this puts me in a difficult position. On the one hand, many people expect my kids to be well-behaved. I mean I am half French right? Everyone knows, thanks to Pamela Druckerman, that French kids are the example to which we should all aspire.
On the other hand, full-blooded French people look at my kids, waiting for them to misbehave.
Aha! That tantrum! Surely that is because you caved. You didn’t stick to the cadre – you are just one of these American parents, easily manipulated by your kids, who confuse self-esteem and creativity with letting kids run wild and boss you the adults around!
Yes folks, most Europeans expect, as a general rule, American kids to be brats. They may not tell you this straight to your face, but I assure you it’s true. They will compliment your kid’s ‘free-spirit’ and ‘independence’. These are thinly veiled terms for ‘you have no control’. But I digress. What I am trying to say is that I am feeling the pressure from both sides of the Atlantic!
What does Santa have to do with all of this? Santa, when I am tired, is an extremely effective parenting tool. One with a terribly limited shelf life so best to ‘consume’ while you can.
I love the holiday season, not simply because I can justafiably (yes I am aware this isn’t a real word) remain sozzled while pulling out my maternity pants and indulge in all things rich and calorific. I love it as I’ve got my kids’ full attention when I talk about a special elf-like secret police and the battles melt away like cotton candy on a toddler’s tongue. Readers note: I don’t buy into elf on a shelf. What!? Am I supposed to carry that thing from room to room? Also, I’m in a rental folks, I don’t make holes in the walls for shelves and/or elves as a rule!
Though I use Santa year around, he is most effective post Halloween.
- Acting up at Dinner… watch out Santa’s watching.
- Won’t get undressed for shower time – Santa’s making a note.
- Refuses to take my bra off her head? He’s got his eyes on you.
Creepy, yet the girls lap it up.
This year I got a little more creative. The girls watched The Rise of the Guardians. In this movie, Santa is this fantastic Russian character, with tats and all. He also has a big globe with red lights indicating where the kids who believe in him live. When questioned by P as to how Santa can really monitor everyone, I said something along the lines of ‘the lights start to blink slowly when a child misbehaves, increasing in speed the longer they take to listen to parents.’
I can stop unwanted behavior in 2 seconds flat by simply saying ‘light blinking’ and flicking my finger up and down.
There are moments, where I ponder whether it would be better if I stuck to my ‘French’ methods, enforcing boundaries, time outs, etc. rather than creating a culture of fear. But then, it won’t last for long, and with Santa watching, Mama has more time to put together all that holiday cheer and pour a nice Christmas-colored glass of wine.
Merry Merry everyone!
(PS. Santa if you are really watching, can I please have anyone of those Pointer Sister dresses? Bring back the bouffe!)