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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

The Kids are the Problem with Christmas: It's not you... it's them

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Tis the season.

Of all the stupid made for tv movies where some evil villain is going to ruin Christmas, how come the bad guys is never a three-year-old?

This would be totally plausible.

From the screaming and crying children in a $400 failed Christmas card photo shoot to that time you were form tackled by mall security for punching an elderly woman in the throat, in a battle for the last Ninja Transformer, moms are just trying to make the magic, and the children stomp on our sugar plums.

This is our big finale, the measure of our parenting as a whole. This is what they will remember. And as a mother of both adult and toddler children, I can promise you, they will #neverforget. Ever. One year, I was out of ideas and exhausted from a season of heartache. I came up with this fantastic idea to give the children a business opportunity for their big gift. We gave them an angora goat farm.

They call it “A Very BAAAAAAAAD Christmas.”

I will never live it down. It is my legacy. But now that I think about it, that was a good gift. If this were the 1800’s in Northern Ireland, that would be a million dollar gift. They are the worst, not me.

Somewhere, in the wilds of Africa, there is a mother tending to her young completely oblivious to this measure we Westerners use to rank the effectiveness of our parenting. The qualitative formula for happy childhood vs. Oliver Twist/Freddy Kruger childhood equals years of childhood over perfected Christmas squared. There is no deduction for seasons of unemployment, divorce, death or dismemberment.

Remember the African relief benefit by Band Aid in 1984? Dang, my sister in law was four in 1984. Okay, so maybe you don’t remember or weren’t alive yet, but it was a bunch of popular singers singing to raise money for food relief. The words, “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”

No, they don’t. And please don’t tell them unless you are prepared to have another benefit for counseling for these African mothers who were perfectly sane before they learned it was Christmas.

It is not us.

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The children are the problem.

First of all, they are in a diabetic crisis. For the entire year, INCLUDING Halloween, we managed their sugar intake. Now, they are eating 9,000 calories a day in baked goods, chocolate peanut butter shaped Christmas trees and candy canes.

Second, they are confused. We are barking at them one minute not to touch the presents, the next… “TEAR IT OPEN!” And “Don’t talk to strangers…” Next, “Sit on this guys lap and tell him all your hopes and dreams, I’ll take your picture.”

To top it off they are exhausted. Our three-year-old was up on the hour last night, in my face, “Is it Chrwismas yet?”

At 3 am I said, “No, and now you’ve killed Santa. He is dead. I hope you’re happy.”

Whatever, I made him an appointment with his psychologist after the 1st of the year.

Yes, after the first of the year. The countdown to normal parenting. January through November is when I am a parenting machine. We wash our hands and brush our teeth. We eat green beans, and we don’t make idle threats. But December, anything goes. In December if one child bites another, drawing blood, after eating 16, 24-year-old candy canes off the tree (and four plastic ones and the resin baby Jesus out of the nativity,) we don’t take them ice skating.

No, criminals don’t get hot cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles. They are punished, this is reasonable.

But there is no reason at Christmas. This is the season they remember everything, so we, in an effort to perfect their childhood, let them get away with murder.

Our five-year-old, after coming off a Christmas cookie party binge, tried to climb our 12-foot Christmas tree. When we intervened, he lost his mind. He was hissing Y’all, like a feral cat cornered by animal control. He lifted his leg and peed on the leg of the sofa. And in turn? We took him on a hayride in the town square to look at Christmas lights and see Santa.

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The damage is done.

I just heard my husband bark, “YOU ARE SUCKING THE FUN OUT OF LIFE!!!!”

Now, he’s on his way to buy ingredients to make gingerbread people with them. My prince charming. Any other day of the year there would have been some heads knocked together, but this is Christmas. They are tired, confused, and either constipated or oozing green and red slime, from both ends… sometimes with glitter. And we must keep up the façade of the magic, in spite of them.

At this point, they could poop on the kitchen counter, call their grandparent’s pastor a stinky butt, and kick the mall Santa in the crotch, and we would be like, “No more cookies for you mister! Now have some pie and let’s string popcorn and watch Home Alone!”

It’s not us that are failing their childhood, it is them. They are the bad guys at Christmas. We are just trying to make them believe in magic, unicorns, and that their teeth won't really rot in their head. We make the impossible possible. They are just lunatics, making the possibilities… suck.

Next month, we will give time-outs and bustins’, we will eat green beans, go to counseling, and not say certain things. This month, we are in a battle to save Christmas. The enemy, our own spawn.

I will go down with this ship.

A snort of peppermint schnapps, crying on the closet floor, drunk on eggnog (a splash of egg, mostly nog) eating cookie dough by the fistful, I will give them a Christmas that proves I was worthy! I will show them sugar plums, wonder, and folly! But I will never forget the terror, come New Years, it is on.

Carry on givers of Cabbage Patch Dolls and GI JOES, carry on the tradition and the fantastic, no matter how they act. I pray your grandchildren are the worst. That your children pay for their raising, like no generation before. I will join you in feeding those grandbabies spoons full of sugar, plum cake for breakfast, and too many gumdrops. We will spoil them rotten and then go home and sleep peacefully, knowing full well Christmas revenge is the sweetest.

Amen, and Merry Christmas.

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