God, I was an asshole.
As the mother of a 3-year old who has just come through the holiday season I am hear to sing loud and proud: Santa Claus is the greatest invention ever. Better than sliced bread. Better than indoor plumbing. Don't tell it I said this, but possibly better than wine.
Just the mention of Santa's name is enough to stop a full fledged toddler fit -- which I think we all know have been scientifically proven to be all but unstoppable. His name gets food eaten. It gets bedtimes observed. It brings moments of blissful quiet in times of chaos brought on by too much time in the car, too much time between meals, or too much excitement. It's powerful enough that the words don't even have to be said, that just the thought needs to be present. Meg actually started self correcting behavior before I could say anything, aware that "Santa is watching." She would be on the verge of a meltdown, and then go silent. The only sound from her? The soft singing of "Santa Claus is coming to town." It was half prayer, half warning -- and it filled my heart with Grinchy glee.
Now though, Santa is gone. The world is dark and cold again.
I tried summoning him, saying that "Santa is still watching," three days after Christmas when Meg painted her toes -- not toenails but entire toes -- with nail polish from her much coveted "Hello Kitty" make-up kit. For a second I thought it was going to work, until she looked up at me with the eyes of an expert and said "he's resting after Christmas, Mom."
Then later she painted her fingers.
I was thinking maybe there could be some other seasonal figures to be employed in a similar Santa matter. I know the Easter Bunny is the obvious first choice, but it just doesn't jibe for me. I can work out a rationale for Santa bringing presents on Jesus' birthday. After all, birthday = presents. However, I just can't make sense of a large rabbit bringing candy and goodies to commemorate a mob murder. Yes, I know the ending is positive, but still...
What about Martin Luther King Jr.? It's a birthday celebration, and maybe he "has a dream" children will behave? Or what about arbor day? Maybe trees bloom presents for children who eat more than three bites of dinner without Geneva like negotiations.
Neither one has the same panache though. Nothing does. Let's face it, if anyone could come up with another enforcer as good as Santa Hallmark would have capitalized on it by now.
Now I just have to sit and wait. Use my patience. Hope that if I am a good enough Mom come November once again Meg will fall under the spell of the man in red. If I'm bad, she may not believe again next year, and end up hucking coal at my head.
Wait! I've got it! Flag day!
Okay, so I'm still kind of an asshole.