It's that time of year again - festive best wishes and all that stuff. My favourite part being the Christmas parties. My least favourite part being the Santa photo's.
Miss5 is a huge fan of Santa, being of an age where she understands that the big guy is the one who leaves the cool presents for her to wake up to Christmas morning (I love her dearly for the fact that, regardless of it being Christmas morning, she is still not waking up before 8am to open her presents, while family and friends groan at the 4am - 5am early rise thanks to their own excited kids).
You'd think that, since she knows he's the man in charge of that magical time of year, she'd be happy to have a photo with him and a quick "hey Santa, how's it going?" - right?
Since she was a Miss3 and old enough to run away screaming, she has avoided Santa at all costs. Which is rather difficult to do in shopping centres during the festive season (which starts earlier and earlier every year...before we know it there'll be tinsel and Christmas lights out in September...), as every retail outlet cashes in on that once a year event with the meet-and-greet and photo op's.
For the past 3 years Miss5 has been crazy with excitement about having her photo taken with Santa. She waits in line, impatiently like the other kids, and is super excited as she gets closer and closer to the front of the queue.
By the time she's within 3 spots of having her turn, she's turned into a stammering, whining, ratty, bratty child. It must be something to do with getting towards the front of the line and within a certain radius of Santa - because her excitement turns to horror and dread. What once was a happy, bubbly child, morphs into the anti-Christ, or anti-Christmas. Her head rotates (not unlike The Exorcist) as she looks from Santa to me and back again, plotting her best exit strategy.
As this is happening, and we're getting closer to the front of the queue, I'm pulling out all I've got to try and bribe/beg/threaten her into a nice Santa pic. I'm offering extra presents, ice cream, more business cards (she has a collection...I don't ask, I just go with it...), extra TV time, ANYTHING for just 15 seconds of smiling to create that memory worthy of sending to the relatives.
Just once I'd love to be like the other parents who have happy, smiling kids in their annual photo. Instead of being the parent who cuts out an old photo of Miss5's face and pastes it over the top of the dodgy Santa photo angry face, and then scans and re-prints the photo with Miss5 smiling happily...even though her head is at an unusual angle and not quite in proportion to the rest of her body.
I'd like to NOT be the parent whose arm you can half see in the pic because I've had to sit there and hold her down while the photo is taken. I'd like to see a smiling face, not the angry "grrrr" face of a freeze-frame snapshot mid-tantrum.
Santa is, inevitably, totally relieved when we get up and leave. Bet he doesn't look at the whiny babies and toddlers pulling his beard in such a bad light after my horror child.
What really irritates me the most....within 2 minutes of having the photo taken - once we are in the "green zone", at what is the invisible safety radius far enough away from Santa - she is totally bubbly and excited once again. She can't wait for Christmas, yells over her should back at Santa "later Santa...see you at my place", and skips off (ok more of a half stalk/half hop because she is fairly unco-ordinated and hasn't got the skipping thing down just yet).
She couldn't be more excited about Christmas, and looking forward to the next year when she gets to have her photo taken with Santa again. While she's babbling on and skip/hop/stalking beside me, I look down at the photo of the angry face, so red it almost blends in with Santa's red outfit, and wonder if I should offer her cash before next year's photo, or a shot of vodka to calm her down.