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Oh, You Better Watch Out

Maddie’s heading off to meet Santa
tomorrow. Well, they’ve actually met once before, but she was
only six months old and probably doesn’t remember him. So in
an effort to keep Maddie’s upcoming meeting with Santa from
devolving into a traumatic, frightful event, we’ve spent the
past week or so re-introducing her to the jolly guy, with some
interesting results.

Brian started by showing Maddie the video
from her first Santa encounter. Since Maddie’s always
interested in watching footage of herself, she watched closely for
several re-runs. With that going over well, Brian moved on to other
genres. Finding a small animation clip online of a cartoon Santa
dancing jerkily to synthesizer music, Brian screened it for Maddie.
Look – Santa moves! Santa’s fun! Santa’s not

For some reason, my daughter found this repetitive loop to be
endlessly fascinating. Something about the clip, coupled with all
the positive press we were giving St. Nick, has caused baby girl to
fall head over heels in love with Santa.

Yes, she’s got her first crush on a man, and he’s old
enough to be her, well, ancestor. Maddie learned to say his name
– “Tanta” – and now asks for him all the
time. She’ll walk to the door to the office and say,
“Tanta! Tanta!” as her way of asking us to take her to
the computer to watch Santa dance. Turn on the stupid animation,
and she’ll sit there, content, until you drag her away. She
finds it so soothing that the day she had her shots and felt under
the weather, she’d lie in your arms, eyes closed, in front of
the computer screen. Try to turn the $#%# music off or stop the guy
from bouncing his belly, and she’d start whimpering. So we
spent a good couple of hours that way, with the adult trying to
tune out Santa.

This Santa thing is going so well that Brian’s printed off a
few pictures from the Internet for her to color in. She’s got
Santa in a sleigh, and Santa standing with a bag of goodies;
she’s colored several copies of both and is very particular
about how it’s done.

I’m telling you, she’s in deep. Upon waking several
times this past week, her first word is Santa. Right now it’s
fine, since she’s confronted with images of her hero at every
turn. In a couple weeks, she’s going to go through withdrawal
and I’ll be left to pick up the pieces.

We’ve already seen some unintended consequences of this crush
we inadvertently fostered. Now, any guy in a picture with a big
beard is “Santa”. And one of her favorite books,
“The Three Billy Goats Gruff”, is off-limits for a
while. It turns out that the evil troll bears a striking
resemblance to Santa, and Maddie couldn’t understand why the
goats were clubbing Santa to death and throwing him in the river.
“No no no!” she cried the first time we went through
the book post Santa-intro. “Tanta! Tanta! Tanta!”
Meanwhile, Mommy is frantically making up a new story and turning
the pages as quickly as she can trying to skip to the
“new” ending. “Look! Santa and the goats are
shaking hands! Look! The goat throws Santa into a bath! Silly goat!
What a joke on Santa! Look! There go the goats to help get Santa
out of the bath!” You get the picture.

And the worst part of all of this is that there’s no
guarantee she won’t still freak out when she meets the big
guy face to face. As it is, ask her now what Santa does and
she’ll stick her fingers in the air and dance around like the
computer clip does. If she’s expecting that at Macy’s,
she’ll be sadly mistaken.

Wish us luck.


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