Good Cop, Bad Cop Santa

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“Ah, ah, ah,” I say as my 3 year old Luke raises a fist against his big sister. In his defense, his reaction was provoked. But I am trying to instill a non-violent approach to solving life’s squabbles. Wish me luck.

“Santa will put you on the Naughty List if he sees you punching your sister,” I warn.  I realize this is a threat most of us make around this time of year.  Conditional promises of big time loot hang over the heads of every girl and boy in December, and my kids are no exception.  But instead of disengaging his cocked fist and apologizing (no matter how insincere–usually a mad “sorry!!!!” or a sugary sweet “soooorrrryyyyy,) his face falls and his little shoulders slump.

“I don’t like Santa Clause, mom. He’s always getting me into trouble.” A tear swells up in his pale blue eyes and escapes down his soft cheek. I hear a sniff.

Enter “Good Cop.” Me. I love being the Good Cop.

I scoop up his light frame and hold him close. “I know it’s hard to be good sometimes, but we must try,” I whisper into his golden hair. “The good thing about Santa Clause is he always forgives us when we say we are sorry and make things right. He wants to give you presents, honey. He really does.”

The others have scattered and we’re alone.  He processes my words for a long minute, wipes his nose on my shirt and wiggles out of my arms to run and play with his siblings again.

As I stand there, I can’t help but think, “how nice to be the good cop now and again!” Who would’ve thought the Jolly Old Elf himself would be seen as the bringer of doom and giver of coal, looming over young and old, threatening little three year old boys with an empty stocking if they can’t control themselves… Ho. Ho. Ho.

That’s when I concluded it must be hard to be three. Old enough to believe in Santa passionately, but not quite old enough to turn the other cheek, walk away, or say “Those were just words spoken in anger. I know you didn’t mean it. Let’s shake hands and be friends again.”

Poor tyke. I’ll make sure to put in a good word to the Big Guy himself. Good thing I have his direct line.

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