|Come sit on my lap, kids. There’s candy in it for you.
Image Credit: Jacob Windham.
The concept of Santa is proving to be a little “tricky” this year.
My daughter and I were at the grocery store when a lady who was clearly full of substances other than holiday cheer approached my daughter and gave her candy while telling stories about how she knew a lot of ponies. Then the lady asked me if she could take my kid by the hand and lead her to her van to see a “surprise.”
Chances are the bombed lady was harmless so I tried to handle the situation gracefully. But inside I was screaming, “I’m 70% sure that your van contains your boyfriend and he’s ‘just misunderstood’ by his ex-wife and the sex predator registry so get the HELL away from my child.”
This prompted me to initiate a conversation about “tricky people” on the drive home. Tricky people are grown ups who try to wheedle kids into situations where they might get hurt.
If an adult you don’t know well asks you to keep a secret from Mommy and Daddy, they might be a tricky person. If an unfamiliar grown up says they’ll give you a present or candy if you do something alone with them, they might be a tricky person. If you think a person might be tricky or you feel uncomfortable, say “no” and go find an adult you trust right away.
When we got home she processed our exchange in her usual way: enthusiastically bossing others around.
Listen up, stuffed animals and pets! I’m gonna hit you with one of life’s hard truths: TRICKY PEOPLE. If a grownup you don’t know well asks you to get on their laps and give them hugs what do you say? No! If they promise you candy and presents if you do what they say, what do you say? No! No! No!
I was pleased that she’d listened to me. Then it occurred to me that she was basically describing the process of getting pictures with Santa Claus which was supposed to happen later that day.
Essentially Santa is an old man who obsessively watches children and documents their movements. But it’s okay, kids. He only does that to encourage you to share your deepest desires with him while you sit on his lap so later he can break into your home while you sleep. And you should totally be willing to go along with all this because then he’ll give you special presents! Even Mommy and Daddy don’t know what they’ll be!
Bonus: Santa’s got the COOLEST. VEHICLE. EVER. Want to take a ride with him, kids? There’s candy in it for you!
If Santa weren’t a deeply beloved cultural icon everyone would know way more about his location than just “North Pole” because he’d be required to register his work and home addresses with the State.
While visions of my daughter screaming “STRANGER DANGER!” and kicking Santa in the junk danced in my head, I cancelled our Santa photos. They’ll be easy enough to reschedule. But first I need to figure out how to make the distinction between Santa and a pedophile in a way that does not crush my four year old’s sense of magic and innocence yet highlights the fact that Santa’s behavior is not okay if anyone else does it.
Or maybe I’ll just wait until next week when our encounter has faded enough from her mind that she won’t immediately associate a stranger’s offer of treats in exchange for lap sitting with ill intentions. Though the ease with which she forgets basic safety stuff like that is concerning… GAH! This Santa business is tricky.