I really thought this year would be different. Toddler Child seemed excited to see Santa, let him know he'd been good and would like an R2-D2 Potato Head, drums, and cymbals for Christmas.
I picked up the two older boys from school on Wednesday and told them this was THE DAY, so please be patient, do it for your little brother, be a good example... and I'll buy you garbage food in the Food Court when we're finished. They could even have a beer. Deal.
The line wasn't long so we only waited 15 minutes. While waiting, I noticed it wasn't the usual Santa for this mall. The new Santa was rounder, yet didn't have a soft appearance, and he had a floating eye. Uh-oh.
As the line moved along, Middle Boy and Oldest Boy were rolling their eyes and whispered to me, "Do we HAVE to do this?" YESSSSS! I hissed. Be positive for Toddler Child, I said through gritted teeth.
Toddler Child asked to be held and began the possum cling when we were third in line. "I don't want Santa. I scared," he said. I told him Santa loves children and would never hurt him. I pointed out the infant on Santa's lap at that very moment who was NOT crying or frightened. Toddler Child watched every move Santa made and continued to cling to my torso.
We were up. I took charge. I told the two older boys where to sit and what restraining techniques to use on Toddler Child. I told the photographer, "We've got a screamer and a fighter. I'll hand him to the Oldest Boy, tell Santa to protect his sensitive parts, and just get a shot - any shot. GO!"
The two older boys moved quickly and were seated next to Santa, who looked confused and stressed - it was hard to tell with that floating eye. As I stepped towards Santa, Toddler Child screamed like he was being murdered. Oldest Boy tried to pull him off of me. It wasn't going to work. Toddler Child was terrified and I felt badly. I looked at the photographer and said, forget it.
I snapped a few pictures then the photographer tapped me on the shoulder, showed me a little stool, and suggested I sit in front of Santa with Toddler Child on my lap.
It didn't go well.
As we left, I apologized and promised all three boys we'd NEVER do this again. I meant that. I wasn't even going to post this picture, but Supermodel (my friend, workout partner, and neighbor) talked me into it.
We all got drunk on greasy food in the Food Court and felt a little better. Toddler Child was worried that Santa didn't hear what he wanted for Christmas in all the chaos. Oldest Boy assured him that he had told Santa everything on his behalf. [He really did too. I heard him. Oldest Boy's a much better mother than I am.]
Leaving the mall, I expressed my regret over the scene we caused. And it was a scene.
Oldest Boy said, "Yeah. Everyone was staring at us. Those Mom's were mad 'cause you scared some of those kids waiting to see Santa. Kinda like a dentist."