With Santa's visit time fast approaching, we've spoken a lot recently about the pros and cons of perpetuating the Santa myth, as well as telling your kid that she's on the "naughty" list rather than the "nice." (Don't try that at home, non-professionals.) But what about when your child asks for something impossible for Santa to bring? For instance, when I was about 10 years old, I became obsessed with wanting "magic powers." It was ALL I wanted, and I didn't care if I got one single toy as long as I woke up on Christmas Day with the ability to move objects with my mind.
At the time, I lived with my grandmother, and I look back and realize how much of a predicament this must have put her in. Here I was, obsessed with "Escape From Witch Mountain" and "Bewitched," and all I wanted was to be able to wiggle my nose at something and have it disappear. Hey, if Tabitha could do this, why not me?
At first, my grandmother told me I'd have to ask Santa for my wish. So, at the local mall, I sat on Santa's lap and whispered in his ear: "I want to be a witch." I can still see the startled bewilderment on the good man's face.
At no point did anyone tell me this gift might not be possible, this wish might not come true. So when Christmas Day arrived, I woke up and cast an excited glance around my bedroom. I fixated on some object and commanded that it whiz across the room to me. When it didn't budge even a fraction of an inch, I was genuinely confused. That year, my grandmother bought me a boxed magic set. Not quite the same thing. (You can't fool a precocious magic-obsessed 10-year-old.)
Of course, I wasn't emotionally scarred by this episode or anything -- but I wonder why no one just told me something like, "Kiri, that's impossible. Santa gives toys not magic powers." I think I could have handled it.
So what do you say when your kids ask for something impossible -- or even just too expensive? I asked a few parents. Here are some of their answers:
- One year my kid asked that my ex-husband and I get back together. I said, "Mommy and Daddy and not Santa make those kinds of decisions."
- When my son picked out a huge, expensive toy, I simply said, "Let's pick out another toy that's not so expensive." He's still very young and doesn't get that adamant about things, so he moved on without any fuss.
- I tell them there's only a certain amount of gifts Santa can bring and there has to be enough for other boys and girls.
- I tell them to get a job.
- I tell them, "Let's walk outside and see the money tree."
- My kid asked for a little brother one year. I told her that Santa only brings gifts approved by Mommy and Daddy.
- I told a niece of mine that I was sorry, but Santa had told me that she had been so bad that not only was she not getting anything this year and for the next five years for Christmas, he wanted me to come over to her house and pick up everything she had gotten for the last five years. She never again asked me what she was getting for Christmas! [Not sure if this person was kidding!]
- I say, "We'll just have to wait and see what Santa brings." I think it's okay for kids to be disappointed sometimes.
What do you say to a kid who asks for something you can't give?
More from The Stir: