Santa: not as effective as he used to be
I've been making liberal use of the "Santa card" almost since my daughter was born. In general, it's been relatively effective. "Oooooh, you know how Santa feels about dirty teeth/kids who don't eat their dinner/liars/children who throw clothes on the floor," I say with a sad shake of my head. I mean, really, you know how he gets about these things. A frowns in return, momentarily persuaded that Santa is indeed furious about her failure to throw her dirty tights down the laundry chute (which, incidentally, is located six inches from her bedroom door).
Lately, we are battling some behavioral issues that are challenging our parenting abilities and patience. The lying drives me batty. We've tried punishing for bad behavior, rewarding for good behavior, and everything in between. I think on some level she realizes that no matter what she does, it's not like anything THAT bad is going to happen. It's not as though we're going to cut off one of her limbs or sell her to a cult or anything (but don't think we haven't thought about it, mister!)
Anyway, we visited the man in red tonight and I have to admit it wasn't as effective as I'd hoped. As soon as we walked in through the mall entrance, the kid spotted him and he in turn shook the sleigh bells and gave her a hearty ho-ho-ho. She giggled and jumped around, her dress shoes clacking against the tile floor. We helped her get her coat off and then she was in his lap in a flash (there was no line, fortunately). I waited until the photo had been taken and then approached Santa. He and my daughter were speaking in conspiratorial tones. "Hi Santa," I said. "Listen, we're having some issues at home with someone fibbing and not listening and -" Suddenly, the kid jumped off his lap and began to run away. I grabbed her arm and she continued to pull in the opposite direction. She was half-laughing, half-frightened about Mr. Claus being made aware of her crimes. Not wanting to ruin her visit with the big guy, I gave up and encouraged her to go back and tell Santa what she wants for Christmas.
I have to give props to Santa, though, because I did hear him tell her, "Listen to your parents. Be nice to your parents." Of course, I'm aware that his primary objective is to get me to fork over a sum of money roughly equivalent to a mortgage payment. In exchange, I received one 5X7 and four wallets. Oh, and a candy cane. We wouldn't want to forget that.