I received a call from my younger sister yesterday. “Santa, Alex will not brush his teeth,” were the first words out of her mouth. “I am so glad I don’t have children,” I replied. Apparently, neither one of us were on top of this conversation…yet. “Sant-UH, Alex will not brush his teeth.” A light bulb went off somewhere in the nether regions of my brain. “Oh, am I supposed to be Santa?” After chiding my sister that this kind of deception was unethical—lying only begets lying—I wholeheartedly played along. I could hear Alex in the background being obstinate and he only seemed to relent when he actually heard that his mother was in fact talking to someone. “Alex, do you want to talk to Santa?” my sister pushed after Alex came to this realization. “Noooo,” Alex demurred. This was an unfortunate turn of events as I thought how I could teach Alex and my sister a thing or two about Santa.
I imagined the conversation this way: “Ho, ho, ho, Alex! How are you little fellow? Say, your mommy tells me you aren’t brushing your teeth. Alex, brushing your teeth will make you big and strong, like your daddy! Mommy and Daddy know what is good for you, that’s why they ask you to do things like brush your teeth.” [By now, a four-year old’s attention span is waning, so you have to stay on top of the situation.] “Alex, you want presents don’t you? Of course you do! But you can’t get presents unless you do everything Mommy and Daddy tell you to do between now and Christmas. And, if you’re really good, Santa (that’s me, ho, ho, ho!) will bring you a motorcycle! Just like the one The Terminator rides! You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Alex? But don’t tell Mommy and Daddy I’ll get you these things or they might not get presents either. So be good, Alex!”
Perhaps after making several other promises Santa—or Alex’s parents—can’t possibly keep, I figure my sister would have a lot of explaining to do on Christmas morning. Thing is, I don’t quite get why the deception of Santa is necessary. Sure, it’s all magic and wonder; how does Santa visit all the little kid’s houses in one night? My question is this: Do parents think of Santa as a white lie, one that politely coerces children into behaving? I’m sure getting children to behave during the holidays is necessary, because it is a time that is particularly stressful, what with all the presents that must be bought for the children who, if you would just let them misbehave, wouldn’t get presents anyway (just a thought). Want to get children to behave? One word—squirt bottle. At least it works on my cat. In other words, the reasonable application of corporal punishment should be sufficient when dealing with unruly children. [Excuse me a moment while I kick the ass of some liberal douche-bag who thinks a world without punishments for broken rules would result in some sort of Utopia. I mean, it really depends on whether the rules are reasonable enough for everyone, something neither liberals nor conservatives ever consider. Anyway...]
I am a little disappointed that I almost participated in the deception. I am particularly disappointed that I didn’t consider some time ago that it would generate a lot of income to set up a 1-800 number that charges $2.99 a minute to call Santa for just these kinds of situations. If I’m going to compromise my ideals, I might as well make some money while I’m at it. I think in another universe somewhere, I am a well-paid lawyer.