T’is the season to be jolly – T’is also the season for disappointment.
As parents, we want so badly for all the relatives, the beloved grandparents and the aunts and uncles, to see our child as the smart, charming, out-going, well-behaved person we know her to be.
Yet what often happens?
I saw it first at the airport while waiting for our son’s plane to arrive.
It was a touching scene – mom holding an 18-month old toddler, watching intently for her parents to walk off an arriving plane. And then there they were, greeting each other and immediately reaching out to take this little guy and squeeze him and hug him – something they’d been dying to do.
But that was not his plan.
Even though he had been wide-eyed in anticipation, even smiled and waved as they approached, this sudden rush to leave the safety of his mother’s arms was another story. And he clung on to her neck and hid his face and as they tried to pry him away and convince him to give his grandma a hug, he began to scream.
The next place was at the restaurant we went to for our welcome home celebration.
There at the table near us were the parents with their lovely two and a half-year-old little girl and her grandparents. All was going so well – the little girl quietly occupying herself, the adults visiting.
But Grandma wanted to go to the rest room and thought perhps so should the little girl.
Well… that was not in the plan – and no matter how much cajoling went on to convince this little girl she should go with grandma, it wasn’t going to happen as she slid off her seat and hid under the table until Grandma went on alone.
And finally the last episode was at the mall…
Even though I was on a mission and should have been moving along, I had to stop and watch. (yes, I am a nosy, I mean, curious observer)
There was a four-year-old boy with his parents and another couple and their young daughter. The young boy stood cowering behind his dad while mom, on bended knee, tried to convince him, first to look at her and then to please go sit on Santa’s lap.
“Look at your cousin, she’s talking to Santa. Santa will be disappointed.”
This was all to no avail, even as Mom tried to pry him off Dad’s legs, he was not going to sit on Santa’s lap.
So what’s a parent to do?
Accept the reluctance, proceed slowly, prepare your child for what’s going to happen, don’t plead, listen to his feelings, stay positive, offer but don’t insist, smile at the relatives and say, “maybe later” and be patient.
If we stay confident, relaxed, accepting, our child will feel secure, ready, and in his own time, take Grandma’s hand, play, laugh and impress all the relatives – in his own time.
You can count on it.
Sitting on Santa’s lap for that little four-year-old, however?
Wishing all of you a very happy holiday with your families and your very smart, charming, well-behaved children.
You know it, your children will feel it, and everyone else will see it too.