Ah, the annual trip to see Santa Claus at the mall.
On Friday night we realized that we are getting really close to Christmas already (how does it always sneak up?) and we better start thinking about taking Nora to see Santa. We decided to give it a try on Saturday morning, so we got up, relaxed and played with Nora. We played up the impending visit A LOT—”Nora, do you want to go see SANTA?!” (said in the most excited, upbeat voice EVER). She kept saying, “Yeah!” but we were skeptical. Girlfriend is SHY. But eventually we got dressed—didn’t even bother getting her into her Christmas dress this year, just a festive shirt and jeans—and hit the mall.
There was a long line. I think that’s probably pretty standard all day on every Saturday and Sunday in December, so we went with it. Whatever. Michael kept our place in line while I walked Nora all around the general vicinity to keep her busy. I repeatedly showed her Santa and the kids sitting on his lap. Talked up how happy they were, how they were asking him for presents, how you get a little prize afterward (a little rubber duck dressed like Santa or a reindeer). I asked, “Do YOU want a turn?”
And there it was. The reaction I expected all along.
It crossed my mind during all of this that this was just stupid. Why exactly were we here wasting our time for something Nora didn’t even want to do? It was for US, not for her. And why? But I told myself that we’ve done it for both of her previous Christmases, might as well do it now, too. Worst case scenario, Michael would sit with her again. We could get another pic of her crying for posterity. It’s all good.
During our wait, I let Nora throw a couple of pennies into a nearby fountain. She got a huge thrill out of it and wanted to keep doing it. I let her throw a few more, but then wrangled her back into our spot in line with Michael, since we were getting close. She kept her eyes on the fountain, clearly wanting to go back. But I held her, and soon enough, it was almost our turn.
We watched the last child in front of us go. I told Nora it was her turn next. She started hiding her face in my shoulder and gripping me tighter. I thought to myself, This just is NOT going to happen.
Here’s the funny thing about 2-year-old Nora, though. She understands a good bargain. She eats things she doesn’t want to eat on her dinner plate just to get more of what she does want. She’ll nap with the promise of something fun afterward. She’ll stop throwing a tantrum over leaving something if we tell her we’ll be back later. The power of reason… it is a wonderful thing. And possibly my most favorite part of child development thus far. Ha!
Anyway, so I was thinking fast. So I said to her, as we were approaching Santa and she was clinging to me, “Nora! If you sit in Santa’s lap and let me take a picture, I will let you throw more coins into the fountain! Coins! Fountain!”
And just like that, she loosened her grip, turned around to face Santa, and leaned her way down into his lap. I sat her there and she… well, she didn’t look HAPPY. I asked her to “say cheese,” which she normally does willingly (complete with a huge exaggerated smile!) but she wasn’t having it. But she looked at me, with this sweet little look on her face, and it… well, see for yourself:
So freaking cute. I can’t stand it. Seriously, all weekend I kept looking at this and nearly crying.
Because she did it.
My girl overcame her fears. It may have taken a bribe, but it was a small, seemingly meaningless bribe. All she wanted to do was throw a couple of coins into the fountain. It only cost me $0.02. It may sound a little stupid, but I was seriously so proud of her.
Immediately after we retrieved her off of Santa’s lap, we started praising her like crazy. “You’re such a big girl!” “You sat on Santa’s lap!” “What a good girl you are!” and she was BEAMING. We told her that she gets to pick out a little prize from Santa (the aforementioned rubber duck) and she was completely thrilled. It was magic.
And then we let her throw her precious pennies.
She couldn’t stop smiling. We couldn’t stop smiling.
It was a good, good day.
For fun, let’s compare with year’s past, OK? :)
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 31 and have been married to Michael for five years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
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