Monday, December 20, 2010

The stress of the season.

We all have stress around the holiday season. Cooking, cleaning, family…. It all adds up. What I didn’t expect was a stressed out 8 year old. We’ve been having some rough patches with behaviour over the last month or so. This has led Liam to worry that he is going to end up on Santa’s Naughty list this year. We’ve had a couple of out and out hysterical crying sessions because he has been so sure that he is going to have The. Worst. Christmas. Ever.

I’ve done a lot of damage control trying to repair the wee ego. Talking about how feeling bad and sorry after misbehaving and then trying your hardest next time counts towards being on the nice list. How thinking of others and living up to the spirit of Christmas can mean more than having a bad afternoon. These pep talks seem to work to help calm him down, but don’t necessarily “stick” as we end up right back where we were a few days later.

We try really hard not to throw out that old parenting stand-by when we are in the middle of bad behaviour: “Santa’s watching you know, you better start behaving!”, because I think that would push him over the edge. But the attitude, the not listening, the general grumpiness that has been surrounding Liam like Pig Pen’s cloud of dust has been hard on all of us. My temper has been short, and unfortunately, I tend to lash out with stinging sarcastic comments when I’m pushed too far. Not my most stellar parenting moments, but hey, I’m human. The most recent one, tossed out while we were supposed to be decorating the tree but instead Liam had stomped off and was full of attitude, was along the lines, of “Well, I guess you just don’t care about Christmas then.” Way to go Mama. It took us several hours to recover from that both my comments and Liam’s initial attitude. Maybe I should be worried that I’m going to be on the naughty list this year too.

Finally, in a desperate bid to plead his case with the big guy in the red suite, Liam asked if parents had any influence over Santa’s final decision, or did you end up on the Naughty/Nice list solely based on what Santa’s witnessed himself. I seized the opportunity to wield a bit of power. I let him know that parents can contact Santa if we think there may be extenuating circumstances that Santa might not be aware of. Then we talked some more about how to improve and not get himself into the ruts that may tip the naughty scale against him. And I went off to send my email to Santa.

Sympatico has this lovely application called Magic Santa. We did it last year and it was a big hit. You fill in all the info about your child, upload their picture, answer a few questions about what they want for Christmas and *POOF* you get a customized video email from Santa, directly to your child. This year it was even more perfect, as it tied in with me sending an email to Santa. Liam got his email yesterday. Santa greeted him by name (which got a little gasp of delight out of Liam) and then Santa went on to say that he had gotten a letter from Liam’s parents and showed a picture of Hilary and I. He did go on to reassure Liam that he was on the Christmas Eve route and that he knew that Liam was hoping to get a new video game this year. You could almost see the weight of worry lift off of Liam’s shoulders as he watched.

So hopefully, as we count down the last 5 days until Christmas, we can all hold it together and make sure we stay on the Nice list.
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