Back when I worked retail I was walking the store one day during the holiday season and I stopped to do something in the Prepared Foods department. Specialty, home of coffee and cheese was right next door and I watched as a customer approached a team member with two small kids in tow. The team member was a long time employee, a professional who was a lot of fun and she immediately offered her help. The customer, “Would you please tell my daughters that Santa Claus will not bring them any presents if they doen’t start to behave themselves?”
It was always a shitload of fun when the customers expected us to discipline their children. My co-worker laughed nervously, I don’t remember what she said, but she certainly didn’t do the customer’s bidding. Because, you know, not her job. This probably happened 4 or 5 years ago, certainly before I was pregnant, but it was one of the moments that has stuck with me most clearly of all my time working at Whole Foods. I swore to myself that I would never be the kind of parents that used Christmas present giving as a tool to threaten my child.
I saw a lot of atrocious parenting when I was working retail. I also unfairly judged a lot of behavior by both parents and kids. I know now it is harder than it looks. A lot harder. Like a super lot harder. But I did see a lot of stuff that I do not want to repeat. I never want to ask someone working retail to discipline my kid for any reason-it isn’t their fucking job. I’m the one who had the damn kids, I fully recognize they are my problem.
Did I mention the job is hard? T and C are getting sick. Both of them have crud coming out of their eyes and low grade fevers. So they are acting like assholes. C has starting doing this charming thing where he screams at the top of his lungs over and over again to get attention. If we fuss and cluck and tell him to get quiet he only does it more. I’ve asked that everyone just ignore it when he starts. If he gets no response the hope is he will lose interest.
We’ve been traveling for more than a week, which is hard on little guys who thrive with a schedule and familiarity. Even though we are with family little people can fray nerves. My kids are coming by their shitty behavior honestly. But it is clearly still driving everyone up the wall. I feel pretty terrible about it. It sucks to inconvenience a house full of people.
T completely could not keep it together tonight. His dad joined his mom, sister, and sister-in-law for a Christmas music performance after dinner. I encouraged Z to go, he needs to have some fucking fun. But after his dad left T was not being cooperative about bath time. As I was yelling, threatening, pleading for his cooperation I desperately wanted to shout, “IF YOU DON’T CLEAN UP THE TOYS YOU POURED EVERYWHERE, IF YOU DON’T STOP BEING A JACKASS, IF YOU DON’T GET YOURSELF DOWN TO THE TUB IMMEDIATELY SANTA CLAUS IS NOT GOING TO BRING YOU ANY TOYS!”
I mean I really wanted to. Really super bad, swears and all. I remembered the mom in Whole Foods years ago and for the first time I understood her desperation. She was pissed, she was frustrated, I’m sure she was tired and she made a shitty choice. I’m pissed, I’m frustrated, I’m tired. And I make shitty choices all the time. But I pulled it together tonight. I did not swear at my kid. I did not threaten that santa wouldn’t bring gifts. I did tell him I was angry and tired. Don’t get me wrong-I did threaten him-but with losing his bedtime songs if he did it again. He did pull it together. I sang a made up song about the first Harry Potter movie and This Land Is Your Land. And he’s asleep now.
As time goes on I think it is going to get harder to refrain from threatening him with losing the spoils of Christmas. But I still don’t want to put that kind of weight on the holidays. I don’t think it is right or fair to any of us. It’s starting to feel like a lofty goal. We’ll see how many more years I get through without doing it. Shall we take bets?
Hope you guys have lovely holidays. And if you celebrate, well, Merry Fucking Christmas. Enjoy the hell out of tomorrow. And start drinking around noon. I think that is my plan to stay sane….
Exploring in the attic with Granddad. T was particuarly excited about this huge Darth Vader. There are three big boxes up there labeled Star Wars for when he is a little older.
Setting out the treats for Santa.
T’s very confusing words. I just wrote down what he said. He drew the T and the digger himself. What? you can’t tell what the digger is?
I actually married Mr. Wrapping Paper Head here.