By Tonya Hudson
It’s Christmas Eve. Alex is bouncing off the walls with excitement and two days’ worth of homemade cookies from friends, family and coworkers.
“I hope Santa brings me what I wished for!” he says.
I smile, content with myself. The kid had written Santa a handful of letters asking for a game called “Pop the Pig.” After proving Walmart.com’s “in stock” status wrong at three different stores, we finally found the game two days before Christmas. We are awesome parents.
“I hope he does too, honey,” I say knowingly.
“I want a clarinet so bad!” he says.
You know that abrupt sound of a needle scratching across a record? Yeah… that’s what I heard.
A clarinet?! Where in the world did that come from?
Then, from the other room I hear the familiar sound of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song. Alex is dancing around pretending to play the clarinet. I’ve never seen this clarinet dance before. Later on in the episode I learn that Squidward plays the clarinet.
Damn you, Squidward Tentacles. You have stolen my Christmas glory.
Later that night at my mom’s house, everyone was asking Alex what he asked Santa for. And every time I heard him mention the clarinet I sulked a bit more. I was already manifesting the disappointment Alex would feel when he opened his gift from Santa to find a plastic potbelly pig that eats plastic hamburgers, not a clarinet. My mom shot me the same look of confusion from across the room. I shrugged my shoulders and put my face back in my potato salad.
Then I got a bright idea. It was 7 PM. The stores were still open. I could still make my kid’s Christmas dreams come true. I’d be back before anyone even noticed. Brilliant!
Dumb. What was I thinking? I wasn’t, obviously. Then Alex turned the knife.
“Mom, is Santa going to bring me a clarinet?” he asked.
“Umm, I don’t think Santa knows you wanted a clarinet. It wasn’t on your list,” I said.
“Santa knows everything, Mom,” he said.
The kid had a point. If he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the big man can read minds, too.
I decided to do nothing. As much as it was going to kill me to see his little face sag in disappointment, I knew another life lesson would be unwrapped along with that little pig.
Christmas morning. Alex jumps out of bed and runs downstairs. We hear his little bare feet slapping on the wood floor then darting back upstairs.
“He came! He came! Santa came! C’mon guys let’s go!”
Dave and I did the groggy parent walk down the stairs, each of us pausing a few times to work out the morning creakiness that sets in at this point in life.
He is unusually patient as we make coffee, especially with it being Christmas morning. He happily opens each gift from us with an “awwwwesome” or a “coooool”. He saves Santa’s gift for last. As he opens it, I prepare myself for the shared disappointment.
“Pop the Pig! I wanted this so much! I love this game! Aggghhhh!!!!”
Well, slap my face and call me Bessie.
It was the first thing he wanted to open and play with. It actually turned out to be kind of a dud of a game, but that’s not the point. There was no mention of a clarinet. Not that morning. Not at any of the three other places we visited that day to open gifts. Not as of this writing.
Wow, did I misjudge that one, or what? Kids are weird.
I guess the lesson here is ‘stay the course’ even if there might be disappointment at the end of the road. The surprises along the way can be very rewarding.