Today did NOT go as planned.
All the kids were awake early this morning which was perfect, because today was the day we were going to meet Santa at the mall. We needed to be out the door by 10:30AM to have any chance at all of being near the front of the line. So, I began the process at 8:30AM, confident I could have everyone ready in two hours.
At 11:45AM the entire family was finally ready to go. A fun half-hour road trip with the kids vibrating with excited energy was all that was standing in our way of climbing onto Santa's lap. Well that, and a two hour line up.
By the time we arrived, Santa's village had been open for over an hour and there were already 150 people in the lineup. We immediately had to begin making decisions about what course of action we would take.
Because Liam still believes wholeheartedly in the magic of Christmas, we decided we couldn’t let him down by leaving.
I forced myself into game day mode (it is Sunday after all) and I dug out the playbook and used every tactic, strategy and distraction I could think of. Amazingly, all three kids were great for one hour and fifty nine minutes. Then literally with one small family ahead of us in line, Ethan lost it. He had had enough. He was close enough to see what was going on and he made it clear to everyone in the mall that he was not going to have any of it.
We tried anyway… we had to right? After spending two hours in line and having Liam mere inches away from touching the big guy… we forced the issue. But we quickly realized it wasn’t going to happen.
It wasn’t that Ethan was scared of Santa - in fact he’s sat on Santa’s lap before and was excited all morning to meet him again, it was just that at this precise moment something sparked in his brain and it was game over.
It was disappointing and frustrating to say the least, but it was out of our control. And that’s another thing a lot of people don’t understand. We’re the parents… why AREN'T we controlling him better, right? And I understand this all too well myself! See, I was raised this way. I wasn’t allowed to laugh out loud without my parent’s approval. So, it’s been tough for me to go into parenting knowing that approach was wrong, but trying to find my own path all on my own - which includes accepting that sometimes my three year old is in full control and there is nothing I can do about it, except give him a hug.
Today did NOT go as planned; but Liam had a great day and told me that several times. Madison gave me a look in the mall that I’m certain said that although it was exhausting for her, she really enjoyed being included. And even though Ethan didn’t make it into the picture, he still had a lot of fun at the mall and even enjoyed eating lunch with us in the food court after a 20 minute hug to regulate his emotions and behaviour again.
If you recall last year, it was Madison who didn’t make it into the picture. So maybe next year we’ll get them all in… either that or Liam will be off to the side because he figured out Santa is not real.
We’ll hope for a picture with all three!!!