I have never been big on the whole “mall Santa” thing, for various reasons. I mean, yes—we’ve done it a couple of times, but on the whole, it’s not like I search it out every year as an essential part of the Christmas season.
(Frankly, the fact that some man is being paid to sit little kids on his lap all day long disturbs me in a way I’d rather not even verbalize.)
Regardless, in spite of the fact that the kids are on the cusp of being too old for such a thing—and really, if we’re being honest, I strongly suspect that Chickadee’s suspension of disbelief about the guy in the red suit has just about reached its limit, my oft-answered “if you don’t believe you don’t receive” notwithstanding—I desperately want to brave the crowds and visit Santa this year.
Why? Well, we’ve offered Monkey cold hard cash to perch himself up there and answer the predictable query with “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!” followed by a big grin (prominently featuring said missing teeth).
(Why yes, we ARE easily amused. Why do you ask?)
Seriously, the child is about to turn eight, and despite having lost his two front teeth a couple of months ago, the replacements are nowhere to be found. I find his gapped smile utterly charming, and plan to get as much mileage out of it as possible before the inevitable occurs. Once a child grows those front two adult teeth, the baby-face is forever gone. From that point forward, the kid face floats atop the eventual-adult face, and glimpses of it peek through now and then… but the baby-face never returns.
I never pegged myself for the sort of person who would be waxing nostalgic over teeth. Such is the joy of motherhood, I suppose.
Anyway. Teeth aside, I’m having a hard time with Christmas gifts.
Oh, Monkey is easy enough, I suppose. He would like Pokemon. Pokemon what? Pokemon EVERYTHING. Anything Pokemon would be fine with him. If I really wanted to be cool I would go buy him Pokemon underwear, but a fear of him flashing strangers is preventing me from doing so. He already has umpteen gazillion cards, but of course he would like some more, please. And some more figures, to go with the eighty trillion he has. And anything else we might like to buy him.
Chickadee is another story. At nine-and-a-half, her taste is changing. She still plays dolls, but only when she’s not busy working on her tween ennui. She’d often rather draw or read than play. She’s old enough to get excited about superfluous clothing as a gift, but not old enough to resist crying “But that’s not FAIR!” if she gets clothes and Monkey gets toys.
When you ask her what she wants this year, she says, “You know, I really don’t have anything in mind.”
And then I hug her and squeeze her and buy her a pony, because the fact that she isn’t whining for something that she MUST HAVE tells me that she’s growing up a little, in that special way that makes me not want to leave her on the side of the road nearly as often.
I do have ONE idea for her—I’m thinking she might enjoy a karaoke machine, but given the typical price point I’m still waffling—but other than that, I’m amazed at how difficult it is to come up with gift ideas for her. It makes me realize that we’re just a few years away from “GOD, MOM, JUST GIVE ME AN ITUNES CARD OR A GIFT CERTIFICATE TO THE MALL, SHEESH!”
I guess I just get to worrying that my babies are growing up too fast; that even as I celebrate their advances I’m maybe not stopping to savor the moments along the way as much as I ought to. Because as grateful as I am for every bit of growth and the things we are leaving behind that I DON’T miss—changing diapers, cutting up their food, worrying about their basic safety and doing things like racing to the top of a staircase to rescue them—I don’t want to wish away their childhood.
Which is probably why, when I explained that they’d be having THREE Christmases this year—one here at home before we head north, one with Otto’s family, and then one with their dad—and their eyes got big and they started cheering and high-fiving each other, I shook my head and muttered my standard lines about them being greedy and spoiled… but then I turned away so that they wouldn’t see me smiling.