I know December just started, but Christmas is already looking problematic this year. A few weeks ago I told the story about Jacob calling me out on the whole Santa thing, asking why he got gifts last year even though he wasn't a good boy. Well...let's just say that this year, that might not be happening. I know it sounds extreme, but Santa may not be visiting our house this year. It's extra disappointing in light of the fact that we could have done a pseudo-Christmas morning this year, since we'll be home the morning of the 23rd, which is a weekend day. Instead of having Santa come to our house while we're at work/daycare and cramming last-minute wrapping, gift opening, dinner, and travels to Buffalo into one evening, we could wake up like it's Christmas morning and take our time. It would have been lovely.
But at the moment, part of me is leaning toward Santa not visiting at all. It seems cruel considering Jacob's only 4, but he's been bad enough at times that we're honestly not sure what else to do. A couple weeks ago I did a video on the Portable North Pole. It's a site where you enter in some info about your kid, upload a couple pictures, and get sent a free video of Santa talking to your child. Santa seems to know a lot of important details, and when I did it two years ago, Jacob totally freaked out because Santa knew too much. I skipped it last year, but this year we needed a scare tactic so I jumped on that right away. Even though the video told Jacob he was on the naughty list, it didn't really seem to phase him. Since then we've been reminding him that Santa said he had some work to do in order to get on the good list. It doesn't seem to be working, though.
Part of me wonders if the only way to get through to him is to have Santa not show up. Don't worry, we'll still give him gifts from us, but what if he got nothing (or some coal (candy)) from Santa? I know it seems drastic, but we're getting desperate. And this may be the only year we could do this without significant damage. Think about it--he's old enough to get it but not old enough that it seems like it would scar him forever. Next year he'll have a baby brother who will get gifts from Santa and it would be even more crushing if Santa left something for his brother and not for him. I've also been pondering giving him a tablet, which is pricey, so I wasn't planning on getting him a ton of stuff anyway...which means Santa wouldn't have been able to bring much anyway.
I don't want to suck the fun out of Christmas, but I'm at a loss to teach him to be grateful for what he has and stop complaining about everything. Tonight we went to the mall. Craig went to work the Knighthawks booth setup for a bit, and Jacob and I shopped. He was quite difficult at times and was complaining about not getting some of the things we were looking at because he was convinced that Santa wouldn't know which one he wanted, even though I told him Santa knows and isn't afraid to ask parents if he's not sure. He didn't believe me and continued to whine.
After dinner we all went to the Lego store. A while back before we had a Lego store here, Craig built a baseball minifigure at a Lego store somewhere else. Later he regretted not making more since Jacob has been trying to build a baseball field out of Lego. Tonight we discovered that they had the baseball player parts again. We decided to let him build one, but since you have to do three, we said that he could have the one and he'd have to wait for the rest. He was very particular about how he wanted to build his guys, and had a couple difficult moments in the midst of it. Then, when we had them nearly built, he started changing things again. He kept trying to pick pieces that we didn't need (like a helmet we already had, rather than something that would have been more useful--and when you're paying for these guys, giving in and ending up with more of what we already have is just dumb), but when we tried to steer him back to the other carefully selected pieces he had a total meltdown. At that point I said we wouldn't be getting anything, and of course he got worse. As I dragged him out of the store (leaving Craig behind to secretly finish building and buying the guys for Christmas), he hit me in the stomach. Not. Good. He lost some privileges as a result of his behavior and yet he still obsessed over it the rest of the night.
Earlier today he didn't get dressed when I told him to (a recurring issue in the morning), even though I told him he couldn't play on my iPod later if he didn't. He still asked to play on my iPod the rest of the day. Eventually I told him that if he was a good listener all day and didn't get into trouble he could earn it back before bedtime, but he wasn't even close. Now he's lost it for a full week because of his outburst tonight. And yet it still won't do any good. It never does. So maybe Santa's all we've got. It seems like the only thing big enough to make an impact. I know it seems wrong and dishonest and not in the spirit of the season, but we're just not sure what else to do. The constant potty talk, name-calling, and talking back is really wearing on us. Nothing seems to help and I have a feeling the kids at daycare just validate it all in his mind. He compares himself to them and is convinced he's fine because the other kids are just like him. No matter how many times we tell him to worry about himself and remind him that even though other kids are like that, he needs to be better, he just doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of what he's doing. I know he's only four, but at what point does he need to be responsible for his response to discipline and his behavior in general? How do we get him to understand I'm not just a "mean mommy" because he needs to go to bed at a certain time? We just feel stuck and right now Santa seems like the most impactful tool we have.
I hate that it's come to this. But what if it works?