Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Naughty List

We have discovered this holiday season that our three year old, Mace, is a natural skeptic. This is his first "conscious" Christmas season -- i.e., he is verbal enough to tell us exactly what his reactions are to Santa, reindeer, elves, etc.

And he thinks it's all bunk.

It's a bit of a downer during the holidays when your 7 year old is more of a believer than your 3 year old.

Two days after Thanksgiving, when Everest, our family elf, came back and appeared on top of the entertainment center, Casey was thrilled and ran to get Mace and bring him into the room. When Casey showed Mace the elf, Mace sat down on the couch and just stared at him for a good five minutes before announcing, "He not real."

Casey protested, "Yes he is!! You can talk to him and tell him what you want for Christmas and he'll go back to the North Pole every night and tell Santa whether you've been bad or good!"

Mace stuck to his guns, "No. He not real."

Yesterday, both of the children received letters from Santa himself. It was a surprise for all of us (except Flamingo Joe, if you catch my meaning). We opened up the letters right away and read the remarkable news that Santa has placed both my children on the "Good List."

As soon as I told Mace that Santa had sent him a letter, he said, "No, he not send letter." So I started reading the letter aloud to him. The entire time I'm reading the letter, he's shaking his head and mumbling something to himself.

"No," he would say, shaking his head, "(mumble mumble mumble)."

When I got to the end of the letter, I pulled out the certificate that came with the letter which declares that In Honor of Your Outstanding Behavior and for Keeping the Spirit of Christmas All Year Long, I Santa Claus, Hereby Place Mace Flamingo on the Good List for this Christmas. The Good List Certificate is signed by Rudolph (by hoofprint), Arthur Elfmeyer the Chief Elf and Santa Claus himself. I showed the certificate to Mace and told him, "See Mace, Santa put you on the Good List."

Mace shook his head again and spoke up loud enough for us to hear exactly what he was saying this time, "No. I on Naughty List."

Grandma and I started laughing, "What did you say??"

"I on the Naughty List. I not on Good List."

I asked him, "Who told you that you are on the Naughty List?"

"Miss Christine," he said. Miss Christine is one of his preschool teachers.

Mace has been having some self-control issues lately at school and at home. He is at the same age that Casey was when I took him on an almost week-long trip to Memphis with my parents and when we came back, my mother told me that she was going to buy me a book about how to raise an only child. Apparently she thought that one child was too many for me since I couldn't even teach the one I had to keep his limbs from flinging about at the least little stimulus.

How bad, though, do you have to behave for your preschool teacher to tell you that are on Santa's Naughty List?

But the bigger point here, I think, is that Mace actually has so much self-awareness that if Santa thinks he is worthy of the Good List, then Santa obviously doesn't exist.

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