Tell Santa

My kids are outgrowing Santa. It makes me sad. Now, the only way I can get them to go along is if we go on pet night to take the dog.

I have a lot of fond memories of our Santa visits.  One of my favorite visits was when my son was five. He was friends with a little girl in his kindergarten class.  On an early dismissal day I decided to take them to see Santa.  The mom of the little girl asked me if I would eavesdrop or somehow get her to tell me what she wanted for Christmas. Apparently she had heard about Secret Santa and was taking the whole thing quite seriously. She refused to tell anyone what she wanted for Christmas.

I devised a plan. On the way to see Santa they could practice what they were going to say, in case they got star struck when they were face to face with the Big Man. It worked!  She told me from her buckled seat in the back of the car that she wanted a horse with a cowboy rider and when the button is pressed…  Here my son interjected, “It self-destructs.”  She paused and looked at her male companion with a mixture of confusion and mild disgust that no doubt would be a staple expression in her later years. “No the horse puts its legs in the air and makes the horse noise.”  She mimed the action and provided the whinnies.  My son insisted that the horse would be better if it shot missiles like the Star Wars X- Wing Fighter he had in mind. Despite our excursion to planet Mars, I returned to Venus and asked where she saw this horse.  She replied “I made it up.”

I returned her to her home and wished her mother good luck.

Now my oldest is fifteen. The only reason he is going this year is because he loves his younger brother and the chance of hijinks with the dog at the mall are pretty high.  My nine year old has big plans for Christmas and they involve Nerf. He belongs to an organized group of 8-10 year olds that have Nerf wars once a week.  Before the battle begins, there’s a lot of discussion of weaponry.  The boys all aim to improve their arsenal with Santa’s help, and they discuss which of the latest Nerf guns will best suit their needs.  Among them is a weapon that can shoot sixty feet and it has become a bit of a legend among the group.  I have no idea how or why, but they believe this gun is called “The Big Wang.”  I just can’t wait for Santa to hear from several boys between eight and ten that tops on their list this year is a “Big Wang.” 

I’ve tried to tell my son that I don’t think that’s what it’s called, but he and his cadre insist there is a legendary Nerf by such a name. So I’m afraid this Santa visit may be our last, but I think we are going to go out with a big bang, or wang, as the case may be.         

 

The Learner’s Permit

My son has his learner’s permit.

He is driving my car.

I don’t know how this happened. I mean, I know how it happened. It’s like taking a pregnancy test and having it comes out positive. You know how it happened, but still, you don’t know how it happened.

I surrender my keys into his eager palm and attempt a state of calm as I relinquish control of both the steering wheel and the brake. It’s momentous. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying.

Your prospective changes a lot when you are the passenger of your teenager. You realize that your mild mannered minivan has been harboring a dark secret. It is not a secure family vehicle; it is a four wheeled death machine. In fact, you have been hoodwinked by all the other folks on the road. They are not fellow citizens of humanity. They are potential drunks, idiots, fools, and ne’er-do-wells.

It is at this point that you realize your child is not a child anymore but a bona fide young adult who navigates in the real world and as such is in need of the full complement of emotional responsibilities and reactions. I’m talking about the F-bomb. Driving is the X axis, the Y axis is permission for cursing, and obtaining a learner’s permit is the point where X and Y intersect.

Golly Gee, Fudge, and Darn don’t cut it when driving a three thousand pound missile that has the potential to do great bodily harm down the road. The proper use of cursing requires nuance, restraint, and situational application. It’s a lot like driving.

 

 

 

Driving is an unmistakable demarcation. No longer can I fool myself that he is my munchkin or that he’s just dabbling in the world of teen deeds.  When he is driving he is a certified Grade A teenager.  He even has the papers from the state to prove it.

I have to practice with him which means I surrender the keys and he operates the steering wheel and brakes.  When I place the keys into his eager palm I try to forget that last week when he packed his own suitcase he forgot pajamas, a toothbrush, and underwear.  We both must focus on the task at hand.

Driving is unlike any other childhood milestone. It is gravely serious.