“Mummy, will Santa bring me any Christmas presents? Cos I havent been very kind to my sisters today.”
Last week we took our big girls to see the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Little Legs went to spend the morning with my sister and our two foster nephews at my sister’s house. They had a fun time and watched Arthur Christmas (the naughty and nice list trigger) and had cinema style snacks 😃 The big girls and I went to pick up Little Legs in the early afternoon and we’d talked about keeping things low key and non-stressy to try and counter her intensity, which I knew would be full on.
Little Legs had had a ball with my sister and there had been no problems. Within about ten minutes of our arrival we encountered some conflict and button pushing, directed towards Happy Dreamer and Little Bud. I redirected Little Legs and kept her close and we pottered on, staying for a quick brew and a chat. In the car on the way home, Little Legs upped the ante a smidge. So when I stopped to pop into the Co-op, I took her in with me and left the big three in the car.
Suddenly she came out with it…
LL: “Mummy, will Santa bring me any presents?”
Me: “Of course you’ll get presents Poppet. Why?”
LL: “Cos I haven’t been very nice to the girls today, and I’ll be on the naughty list.”
And there it was.
The nice or naughty list. The Elf on a Shelf who reports back to Santa. The Santa cam thing where ‘he’s watching you’. The phone number you can call and a recorded Santa will remind your kids to behave.
What is all that about???????
Why do we use Christmas to modify our children’s behaviour? Why do we try to exert control over them? To teach them that only good children get gifts?
So I told her. The nice and naughty list is a lie that grown ups made up. It isn’t real. You will get presents. Your presents are for you regardless, because Mummy and Daddy love you very much and want to bless you and give you lovely things. The gifts aren’t dependent on your behaviour. Ever.
We’ve already had The Conversation this month…so she knows that Father Christmas isn’t real and that it’s Mummy and Daddy who choose her presents, buy her presents and put her presents in her pillow case in the lounge. There is no one creeping round our house late on Christmas Eve (other than Mummy and Daddy!). She visibly exhaled. Thankfully she didn’t announce it to the throngs of kids at her cousins’ Christmas Fair! Although she is on the lookout for fake Santas everywhere 😉
But this opened the floodgates last week.
Our trauma experienced five year old shouldn’t be worrying about only being rewarded for being good enough. I told her that even Mummy can’t be good all of the time! We’re all a mix of naughty and nice and none of us gets it right all of the time. Little Legs has enough to contend with in life without added pressure and worry caused unnecessarily.