Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

My child has never been Santa’s biggest fan. Even as an infant, she cried hysterically when placed in his lap. Compared to her brother, who couldn’t be bothered either way. Last year, she kept a measured distance and wouldn’t even say hi. For this year’s picture, Santa is holding one ambivalent child and I am sitting on Santa’s lap with the other child that is hiding her face from the camera. This year the magic of Christmas is coming alive for her, and she was thrilled to meet Santa, but she would rather not sit on Santa’s lap.

I didn’t force the issue. Please, don’t make your kids sit on Santa’s lap if they don’t want to.

Think of the message that you’re sending your terrified, small child. “Hey, if you sit on this strange man’s lap he will give you a piece of candy and some presents.” Toss in a windowless white van and Santa is just your friendly neighborhood predator.

Ok, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic per usual, but seriously. C is for consent, even at Christmas time. My child did not sit on Santa’s lap last year, and she was happy to sit on my lap this year. My child went home thrilled to have met Santa, but would I have destroyed some of that magic by pushing for the cute picture I had imagined?

Yes, I hundred percent wanted an adorable picture of my newborn and my toddler for their first Christmas together. Instead of just my lovely children with Santa, I’m tossed into the picture with my leggings and ponytail. But I won’t sacrifice my selfish want for a cute picture in exchange for my child’s comfort. I will not teach either of my children that they can be coerced into doing something they don’t want to do.

I laughed really hard at the picture that I did get. It wasn’t what I imagined, but what I got was much more important. I got the opportunity to tell my child that she did not have to sit on a stranger’s lap. I gave her the opportunity to voice her discomfort and then I supported her in that decision. Am I against bribing a child with a candy cane to stand next to Santa? Nah. By all means, get the cute picture. But if they say no even to standing next to Santa (which my child did) there shouldn’t be any further arguments.

If my child had said no to sitting on my lap while I sat on Santa’s lap, I would have listened. It was my last-ditch effort for a picture. It worked, and all I can do is wonder how both of my children will respond to Santa next year, and maybe remember to wear something nicer than leggings. And brush my hair. Yikes.