Sunday, November 25, 2012

Santa Who Shall Not Be Named

I have failed in teaching my child about the joys of the Holidays.  The only thing she has seen is the Madagascar Christmas Special which has made her believe that the name of "Santa" should never be spoken out loud. (Santa gets attacked and has amnesia. The penguins stage a coup and like to say, "Do not say Santa's name."  Very dark lord-esque.)
We attempted to take the girls into town to get their picture taken with Santa this weekend.  (In our town of 700 people, Santa is played by an old Jewish man with a truly amazing beard. I like the fact that the only Jewish person within a hundred miles spends most of his year preparing to spend December pretending to be a Christian saint.  You can't make things like that up.)  They were all clean and fed and dressed in cute dresses with pretty shoes and it seemed like the beginning of a beautiful new family tradition. Thing 1 does better if I prepare her ahead of time for these new life experiences, so as we drove down the snowy road, I casually started a dialogue about my ulterior motives.

"Maybe Santa will be at the store today, wouldn't that be fun?"
Thing 1:
"SSSSsssshhhhh, Momma. Don't talk about dat." (finger pressed tightly to her lips and eyes glazed over.)
"You know, some people believe that Santa brings them presents. We like presents, don't we?"
Thing 1:
"Shhh Shhhh SSSSSHHHH! Don't SAY that!"
"Ok. We won't talk about Santa."
Thing 1:
"You can't say that Momma, don't say that name."
"Fine. Although Santa isn't something to be scared of you know..."
Thing 1:

I should have taken the clue right then and there and turned around, but somehow I hoped we would arrive and bribe her with cookies and she wouldn't even notice the jolly bearded Jewish fellow asking her what she wanted for Christmas. 
We got about two feet in the door when she laid eyes on that red velvet coat.  Her face went chalk white.  She collapsed dramatically to her knees, buried her face against my leg, her little body wracked with silent horrified sobs.  Awesome. Other children started looking nervous. What did that little girl know about that big bearded guy that they didn't? Couldn't be safe if a baby was crying like that... Other parents were giving us the death look as their offspring shifted and seemed to be contemplating bursting into tears as well. 
I half carried Thing 1 to a quiet corner.  We took a few deep breaths.  Discovered we could spy on Santa from behind the merchandise racks.  While she was willing to discuss how big his beard was and how soft his coat looked, she balked at the suggestion that we approach him again, preferring to keep a weather eye on him from her current hiding place.
Thing 2 hadn't made much of a fuss so far. She had been perched on my hip observing her sister's theatrics with a wide eyed fascinated stare.  I decided to cut my losses and just get one girl in the picture.  I casually walked up to him and sat down with Thing 2 on my lap. She glanced over, saw those spectacles and rosy cheeks and twinkly eyes and burst into tearful shrieks. Thing 2 is not a pretty crier. The photographer snapped away gleefully while I made awesome faces trying to convince Thing 2 that Santa Claus does not eat small children and she hyperventilated on my lap. Finally we left, a  trail of traumatized elves, parents, and children in our wake. 
So yeah...Christmas movies. With nothing scary.  Or overly religious. Or overly commercial. This is hard to find. There are either abominable snow monsters, or walking skeletons, or evil magicians, or green Grinchy Santas, or else they are too grown up and old fashioned. Any suggestions? What Christmas movies have you watched with your wee ones to prepare them for the magic of the holidays? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

False Family Advertising

The plague has come to our house this week. I had a night of misery and a day of fevers (burnt out at last by the combined body heats of the Two Tyrants), and now a sick Tyrant Daddy today. The house is a mess, the laundry has piled up, we have mostly eaten noodles since no one has had energy to run to the store, or appetite to eat anything else, and I haven't showered since...errr....I'm pretty sure I showered....hmmm....awhile ago.
Today the tyrants and I were feeling much better and the sun was shining.  I knew I should be practical and productive but I just couldn't get motivated. Even though there were cheerios liberally planted in all the corners of the living room, and only one clean bottle left in a six mile radius.  I had that moment when all I wanted to do was put on mascara and some sassy boots and go somewhere where SOMEONE who I wasn't related to would see me (this is difficult in a town of 700 citizens that your family has lived in for 6 generations...).
 I threw the Tyrants into their "nice" clothes (As opposed to their "play" clothes. Actually, pretty much all our clothes are "play" clothes, but there are a few items that are always the last to get "played" in, so they are the "nice" clothes by default.  These were also the only clean clothes available.), put on boots and a happy coat, grabbed a snack or two for the girls and drove -
WOOHOO!!! Party time, girls!

Ok, so there isn't a lot to do in our town. We work with what we got.

When we first moved here, we were foolish enough to let Thing 1 have a candy when we went to the bank, and she has never forgotten.  As we were driving the conversation went like this:

Thing 1:
"Maybe we have a LOLLY POP, Momma? Maybe they have one for ME? Maybe?"
Me: (lying)
"Ooooo, I don't know if they have any lollypops, Honey. We'll just have to see, ok?  Here, why don't you eat this carrot stick instead?"
Thing 1:
"Ooooo! Dat sounds good! Thank you Mommy! One for Mia, too?"
"Yes, I have one for Mia too."

And so it was that I pulled into the drive thru window with two clean, well dressed toddlers, happily chewing on carrot sticks in a clean car (not mine, I was borrowing my sister's), while I (in my mascara and lip gloss brilliance) filled out my deposit slip.

Bank Teller:
"Oh, look at you girls! Eating so healthy! What a healthy snack!"
"Well, we try sometimes."
Bank Teller:
"Aren't you girls just sooooo cute!"
"They can be...sometimes..."  
Bank Teller:
"What a good Momma you have girls!" (sending out deposit slip)
Thing 1:
"HMmammmaaa LLLlollllppppaa?" (Hey Momma, do they have a lollypop? through a mouthful of carrot.)
"Ah, thank you! Say thank you girls! Thank you! Ba-bye!"

Somehow it is comforting to know that even though I am sitting here still unshowered, with at least twelve thousands loads of laundry waiting to be done in the morning, and a sleep walking teething toddler fussing in the room next door, that there is another human being in the area who witnessed me being a good mother for a brief moment in time - even if it was false advertising. (And she might have been a second cousin... )

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fill in the Oval

Life in the country has started falling into a rhythm. The quiet no longer feels so oppressive. The trips to town are few and far between.  The liquor store owner up the road never cards me and asks after my parents.  Life is good, if not ideal. 
And then election day came.
Normally, in the city, election day meant walking two blocks, flashing my ID, maybe registering if I wasn't already, and filling in some circles. Maybe an hour, and four years ago I didn't have any children to worry about.
While I grew up in the country, I had never voted while residing here since I was the girl who hopped on a train when I was 18 and never really looked back. 
Out here in the sticks (an hour from anywhere) they do something called "absentee ballot", which means you are sent your ballot in the mail, fill it out with a witness, and mail it off. 
Well, you have to register in advance for that to work. And we, of course, hadn't yet. 
So this morning I googled "polling places in Minnesota when you live an hour from anywhere", only to discover that it wasn't at the little tiny town up the road, but even farther, to the "big town" which was, of course, an hour from us.  Fine, Tyrant Daddy and I thought, we can do that. We just needed our ID's and a piece of mail proving where we lived, right? 
Except I couldn't find my ID. ANYWHERE. I interrogated Thing 1 who made her most innocent Puss-in-Boots face and pleaded the fifth. Finally I found an old college era driver's license where I was surprisingly wrinkle and dark circle free. At this point I was committed. There was no going back.  The diaper bag was packed. I would have to do the best I could.  
As we were putting on our coats, our conversation went something like this:
"Did Tyrant Daddy have his ID?" 
"It wasn't expired too, was it? Haha!"
Turns out his birthday had come and gone and so had his valid license. 
We almost quite. Right then and there. Said  to hell with it, what will two votes matter one way or another? 
But I couldn't do it. And neither could he. Because I looked at my Tiny Tyrants in all their glory, and I realized that the future MATTERED to me too much to just let it slide.
So we loaded them up. Drove an hour. Praised the creator of the portable DVD player. Went to the courthouse. Went to the wrong floor. Found the right floor. Got some forms. Casually mentioned we might have expired ID's. Got the squint eye from the lady at the counter. Was informed we needed VALID ID's. Got sent to the DMV down the road. Filled out more forms. Took some pictures. The DMV lady glanced at me in my amazing thrift store beret, frizzy hair poking out in all directions, raccoon eyes and ruddy cheeks, and then casually asked if I wanted to just make a duplicate rather than renew since my old picture was REALLY nice. I mentioned how I had gotten dressed up JUST for this occasion, but I supposed I could wait until it expired. Then I ran after Thing 1 who was piling  pillows from the waiting room couch on the floor, and then flinging herself into them because she was a "dragon! See how I fly like a dragon, Momma!" while Thing 2 planted herself in front of the magazine rack and systematically hurled driving manuals and copies of Motorcycle weekly all over the room. 
Then we were back in the car (Toddlers REALLY love getting in and out of their car seats, have you noticed that?) and BACK to the courthouse, where Thing 1 informed us that she was tired of paperwork and wanted to take a nap. Tyrant Daddy opted to stay with her, so Thing 2 and I bounded up the marble stairs. Thing 2 attempted to infiltrate the offices of the city while I did more paperwork, and then finally I was in a little blue booth, Thing 2 firmly planted on my feet while she chewed on my purse and emptied credit cards and diapers onto the floor. (I didn't want to hold her after that talk about "fill each oval in ALL THE WAY". Ever tried to fill in a tiny oval accurately while a one year old attempts to eat your pen? Tricky.)
Then I was DONE. 
We traded places with Tyrant Daddy. I let the Tyrants run wild in the car until he returned. In his hand was a yellow sheet of paper. Apparently while he was filling out HIS forms someone came up the stairs  and said they had found it in the hall. He asked if it had my name on it. It did. It was my newly acquired $13.00 worth of proof that I was me and I looked like me and I lived where I live, which I had let fall out of my pocked while flying Thing 2 down the stairs like an airplane so her screams sounded more happy and less undead. 
I can't imagine why I couldn't find my original ID, my life is SOOOOO organized. Sigh.
We praised our surprisingly cooperative Tyrants, and headed home. 
I must say, it was the most arduous voting process I have ever endured, but it WAS WORTH IT. Taking control of my life and my future,  one Tyrant adventure at a time.