Santa Proofing a Toddler

‘Tis the season….to prepare your toddler for Santa.
While many kids take to the idea of Santa easily, I’ve noticed toddlers, well, to put it bluntly…don’t. This is probably a very good thing. I’d like to think my son’s inherent aversion to the man with the concealed face and odd clothes will also be what keeps him from running up to sit on the laps of total strangers. Still, we as loving parents want to instill some of the Christmas spirit in our little guy, (and get mandatory cutesy pictures for his scrapbook) so here, in detail, is my plan to acclimate my son, to Santa.

I started by decorating for Christmas as usual and letting him help where he could. He is two so that is pretty much limited to putting the empty keepsake boxes away but to him, this was a big job! (As evident by the 30 or more minutes he spent using the boxes as building blocks first)

My second step was to choose an ornament of Santa that he could actually play with and call his own. In this case, it’s the bobble head Santa my husband got at last year’s office Christmas party…I knew that thing would finally come in handy. The first week of December was, as a result, spent with bobble-Santa going on all sorts of wild adventures with my son and his daycare buddy, including but by no means limited to riding in the backs of a Tonka Truck, being shove into a Little Tikes Car Hauler, and last but not least, my personal favorite, being laid across the tracks of our Thomas and Friends wooden railway as the hapless victim to be saved. Okay, I helped with that game a bit.

The third and final stage of this plan involved multimedia immersion. This means we took full advantage of ABC Family’s 25 days of Christmas shows and Cartoon Network’s relentless showings of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” My son loved this for as long as the shows managed to hold his famously short attention span, especially his mom going, “Look, there’s Santa!” every chance she got. I was even running out to the kitchen or his room to grab him when I knew a good “Santa” part was coming. This part I’m sure he enjoyed much more than the actual shows, based off of the squealing giggles he gave while I chased him down.

This went on for three weeks until, at long last, the day was upon us to see Santa. The plan, which I thought was quite clever, was to attend a Breakfast with Santa. I figured this would not only give him a chance to see other kids around Santa first, but also indulge in his absolute favorite delight, pancakes.

So, the night before the big event I went online to find out the exact time of the breakfast. To my dismay, and what other mom’s will chalk up to my rookie status, I found you had to have tickets to see Santa and they had been sold out for some time. This gave me mixed feeling of elation and dread. I was happy to have put off the visit with the jolly old elf one more day, but then I realized I wouldn’t have time to take my son the rest of the weekend or week. To make matters worse, I was flying out of town the following Wednesday while he went on a trip to Grandma’s.

Reluctantly, I relented that I would not be taking my son to Santa, but I knew all that work was not lost. The duty of taking him to St. Nick had now fallen to his Grandparents, who took on the job quite happily. I had known all along they planned to take him, but the selfish mother in me hoped to take him first. The NERVOUS mother in me prayed that all my hard work would pay off and he wouldn’t have a total meltdown in Nana’s arms.

Well, last Saturday as I sat missing my little boy and wondering just what he would do to Santa this year (last year as a baby he nearly pulled off the man’s beard in front of a room full of children), I had to hope that my efforts would pay off. Finally, around 3 pm I got the evidence, a picture texted from his Grandmother. It was of my son, sitting on Santa’s lap his mouth wide open in dumb amazement and delight. Nana later reported that he sat that way most of the time and didn’t get upset at all. (Neither did the hundred or so children since my son decided to leave Santa’s beard attached this year)

At first the humble person inside me said, “It’s a fluke, there’s nothing I did that made a difference.”

And then I got the picture of my beautiful niece, who is 3 months younger than my son and who is normally a pretty laid back kid, screaming in anger as she is sitting on Santa’s lap…maybe there was something to those arduous evenings spent watching Claymation and puppetry anyways. I hope so, I can guarantee one thing I learned from all this, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is not nearly as cool as I thought it was 25 years ago-do we really think pulling all the Abominable Snow Man’s teeth would really make him docile?