Every since my children were little, each year as we prepare for Christmas, we engage in conversations around what we would like Santa to bring us.
Oh, LDT on this one please as I have a funny story to tell: A few years ago, we took the kids to see Santa for their annual picture. I remember this year especially because it was the first year that Santa didn’t terrify them. They actually sat on his lap. And this was a good Santa too; he was quite believable. I was really excited and felt confident that this was going to be the first year we would get a “good” picture. You know what I’m saying! So Santa is doing his thing and is engaging the boys and like good dads, we are eavesdropping for shopping clues.
Well…one child asked for lights…and the other asked Santa for shoe strings. I was mortified. Lights and shoe strings? We are far from homeless! And just like that…Santa was judging me. I could feel it through that nasty white beard of his…Damn him. I gave him my best stank eye (I’ll explain that another time) challenging him to not even allow himself to think it. The children had betrayed me in a moment of innocence. It was a hang your head and look away moment. You know those moments. All parents have them. Those moments when your children say or do something so wrong that all you can do is hang your head and look away. Like the time my son and I were walking down the street on a nice summer evening and as we passed a Sikh, he said “hi Santa!” Well I lost to Santa that year. My children asked Santa for lights and shoe string and the sound of it lingered like unidentifiable stink. Nothing I could do would remove it…so with no dignity, we bought what has become the constant memory of my shame, and left.
OK, where am I going with this, right…as we prepare for Christmas, the boys gather their thoughts on what they will ask for from Santa, I make sure to ask Santa for one gift too. Usually my wish is something I want my boys to be able to do because I just can’t stand having to do it any longer. One year I wished my boys potting training to be done; the following year I wished for them to learn how to wipe their own butts. This past year it was to decrease their fascination with their farts and burps…You know, simple stuff.
What I got however was something I didn’t ask for and I want to go on record to say “I don’t like it and Santa needs to get his fat ass here to take it back”.
For one of my boys I am transitioning from “daddy” to “dad”. Like I am so used to hearing him say “hi daddy” or “daddy this and daddy that” I can hear MY distinct “daddy” in a playground of 1000 screaming children. But lately its become “hey dad”, “hi dad”, “bye dad”. Like where in the hell did that come from? I am not “dad”. (FYI: This supports my desire to raise my children in a bubble for I am confident he is getting it from someone at school.)
He breaks my heart every single school morning. I take him to the door and he turns and says “bye dad”. No more hugs, no more kisses…nothing. I remember his first day of school when he was so nervous I picked him up and carried him in the door. We sat in his class and I gave him kisses and tickles to distract him from his nervousness until he told me I could leave. Today, like an idiot I stand there waiting, thinking just maybe he’ll turn around and run back to give me my hug and kiss goodbye…but NOTHING. He walks into the door confidently, running to his friends, oblivious to how he just crushed me. The teacher that watches the children in the morning…she takes pity on me and I think I love her. She looks at my broken face and shrugs her shoulders knowing that this is a rite of passage. That all she can offer is her empathy…and so I hang my head, turn, and walk away.
At home its worse.”Hey dad can I get something to drink?” “Hey dad, I’m hungry.” “Dad could you turn out the light?” His saying “dad” feels like he is choking out all that sustains me; it knocks the wind from my sails. That little word “dad” steals the sense of connectedness that is all our own. I feel reduced to something common. It signifies he is moving away from me in small but certain ways. I am not needed the same way. I am no longer AS important. And with tears in my eyes as I write to you now, I hate that a role I was so eager for has a word that reduces me to shit. And what I hate more than that is that I have to accept it.
Be careful what you wish for…Sometimes Santa fucks things up!