Yes, yes, I know it’s STILL November.
I’m VERY aware of that. This year has seemed to drag on (and on) like… like… an episode of ‘In the Night Garden’ (parents of tots know what I mean). A seemingly endless flow of baffling events and interactions with no satisfying conclusion in sight, 2018 and ITNG have a lot in common.
Anyway, I digress.
I’m not bringing up Santa because I’m one of those wild-eyed fans of all things festive who want to eat Turkey every day and become a little too excited at the merest rustle of tinsel. No, I’m talking about Father Christmas because I have a 2 and a bit year-old son who’s fully embracing the ‘Terrible Twos’.
It’s the weirdest feeling when your little one starts to get properly naughty. The best way I can describe it is when, in a Bond film, 007 gives a CIA colleague a gun (for defence), only to find, a scene or two later, the co-star is a double agent who turns the weapon on him. This treachery is a standard movie trope, yet the real life equivalent, when your child uses words you’ve taught them to actively disobey you, packs a real punch to the gut.
In a former life, long before In The Night Garden marathons and synchronized bacon sandwich and Peppa Pig viewing sessions, I used to have a responsible job where people listened to and acted upon what I said. These days I find myself in the centre aisle of the Co-op pleading with my son to stop crying because I won’t buy him a full-sized carpet cleaning system.
Yes, that happened.
So back to Father Christmas. Somebody, way-back-when, was very smart when they created the Santa mythos:
“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good…”
It’s almost as if this jolly fellow was solely created to use as a threat to stubborn two year-olds.
“If God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
I can’t help but feel Santa was dreamt up by a parent at the end of their patience with a tot.
So, in order to see the greatest return on investment, from Father Christmas, my partner and I started talking about him (a lot) months ago. Parenting is weird, eh?
“Eat up your dinner. Remember Father Christmas is watching.”
“Oh! I think I just say Santa at the window.”
“Naughty boys don’t get presents at Christmas.”
When you step back from it, the whole Father Christmas story feels like the plot for a horror film. A hermit-like fella, who prowls the land, judging the morality of our young. It can’t be a coincidence that his name is just one typo away from ‘Satan’. Or am I getting carried away? Perhaps.
Even so, I’m not sure whether my son is enthralled by or scared of Mr. Claus? A combination of the two I’d imagine. I certainly remember thinking this fellow’s name was spelt ‘Claws’ in my own youth. Terrifying eh?
The question on everyone’s lips has to be: Is the whole ‘Santa thing’ working? Is parenting’s biggest carrot and stick routine – based around filling stockings on December 24th – having the desired behavioural effect?
The answer is a less than triumphant: ‘A bit’. Every time I mention Saint Nick, my son looks into the mid distance wistfully – no doubt imagining hauls of toys provided by the septuagenarian stalker – and then, carries on with the mischief he was previously making.
Such is life I suppose. I’m going to keep on trying with it. To be honest, I’m looking forward to consuming that brandy and mince pie after my son’s bedtime on Christmas Eve.
After all, I’ve been a very good boy. Maybe one day my son will take after his dear old dad!