The following is a tale of great sadness and woe in which I crushed my child's dreams and probably gave him a serious case of Christmas Angst that will haunt him for the rest of his life:
This year I went shopping on Thanksgiving with some friends to find some spectacular deals.
And boy did I find them! I probably found too many, but let's not go there, OK?
My FAVORITE find of all was the half price Tonka trucks at Kohl's.
My friend Oliver LOVES tractors, and I just knew he would love these. I bought three just for him.
Late that night, I brought home my spoils and hid everything behind the curtains in my bedroom...not the best hiding spot, I know, but it was late, and I was stressed about a missing shopping bag (a story for another day).
The next morning, I was rummaging around my room when Oliver came in. I asked him to leave, and on his way out, he noticed that there was something amiss about my curtains.
"Oh Mom! I will fix your curtains for you!" he said.
I was looking away and said, "Don't touch the curtains, just go outside."
I turned around to shoo him out and found Oliver holding the curtains open, gazing at the Tonka trucks with eyes full of wonder.
"GET OUT OF MY ROOM!" I shouted. Because sometimes I react a little strongly. Besides, my dreams of Oliver on Christmas morning were crashing and burning right before my very eyes, and that made me super cranky.
Oliver ran to his room and shut the door. I took a few minutes to collect my thoughts and make a plan. Then I went to find him. He was laying on his tummy by the bookshelf looking at a book full of tractors and trucks. Oh man.
I pulled him onto my lap, and we had a talk about what he saw. He told me that he had seen three big trucks, and that he loved them.
And then I did the hardest thing I've ever done...
I told him that the trucks had been a Christmas surprise for him. I reminded him that I had asked him not to touch my curtains, and that he had not listened to me. Then I told him that I had to take the trucks back to the store because he had seen them and they were no longer a surprise.
He looked at me with tears forming in his eyes and an expression that said "I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry" His lips were tight and his voice was strained. It was so cute and sad! I wish you could have seen it.
"I didn't mean to see the trucks, mama." he said as calmly as he could, his voice quivering just a litte...
"I didn't mean to see the Christmas surprise. We don't need to take them back to the store."
I stuck to it though. I told him I was very sorry, and talked about how we have to be careful at Christmas time because there are lots of Christmas surprises, and if we see them, they can't be surprises anymore. Then we went to tell Jesse the sad news.
Oliver was still struggling to keep his composure as he told Jesse about the trucks.
Jesse just gave him a big hug and saved the day, saying "I'm sorry about the trucks, but will we have to take them back to store and find a new Christmas surprise for you. Maybe you could ask Santa to bring you big trucks for Christmas." (Yes, Jesse did in fact endorse Santa...)
"Oh! Good idea Dad!"
Periodically throughout the next few days he would get a sad look on his face and tell us he was sorry about ruining his Christmas surprise.
All in all, everything will work out. He will still get his trucks, and Jesse and I will get to see his reaction to them.
But even now, a full month later, he apologizes for ruining his Christmas surprise and insists that he didn't mean to see the big trucks.
However, there were two positive outcomes to this irreversible emotional scarring...
First, there is no argument about Christmas surprises in our house. All we have to do is tell Oliver that he is getting too close to a Christmas surprise that hasn't been wrapped yet, and he puts his hands up, turns around, and walks away. No questions asked. He doesn't want to be anywhere near an unwrapped Christmas surprise.
Second, the child who ran screaming from the room at the mere sight of Santa last year was very brave this year. So brave that, even though he insisted that he did not like Santa, and was not excited to see him in the least, went and sat on the big guy's lap long enough to make a little small talk, politely ask for big trucks, and get a picture taken.
And that's progress.