This past Saturday, the shortest and quite possibly the nicest day of the year, Mabel turned one and a half years old. Which means I never have to speak of her in terms of months anymore. How old is Mabel, you say? She’s one and a half, thank you for asking. And now you don’t have to do math. You’re welcome. If you need more specific information, you’re likely my doctor and already know how old she is. If you’d like to compare my child’s development to yours, just assume we’re both better than you two.
Saturday was also Mabel’s first introduction to Santa Claus. Well, besides last year, but she was barely a person then. She’d have sat on an alligator’s lap if we put her there. So this was the first real time she was introduced to Santa. He came in through the door, very red and very fat and very loud. Mabel was already surrounded by people she doesn’t know being forced to rip paper, something we have pleaded with her not to do every day until now. Santa’s presence was just the straw that made the baby cry.
Because mommy and daddy are good parents, we stopped her from running away and made her choke back her tears, sit down and clap along as we all sang Rudolph and Frosty and other songs she’s never heard. Between each one, she looked up at us through tears, held out her palm and waved it back and forth, saying “done done” through stifled tears. I felt horrible that it was so damn cute.
Eventually, the non-shiny, developmental toys sitting in front of her were no longer enough to hold her interest and it was either Mabel Meltdown or let her get up and leave. So we went to the other room and distracted her with meatballs and sweet potatoes, no doubt starting her down a path of eating to cover up her fears.
Once she was comparatively calm and had forgotten all about that scary fat bearded man, we decided to try to get her to take a quick picture with him. Maybe she won’t remember him from before. I felt the desperate squirming of an animal in peril as I carried her in the other room, much like trying to shove a dog in a pool. When she realized I was bringing her specifically to the fat man – not just back into that room – and doing it on purpose nonetheless! – she began to wail. But Jenn and I weren’t doing this for her. We were doing this for Future Mabel. And maybe a little for us. Because we’re good parents.
If grading on a purely binary scale, I would grade Mabel’s first real Santa visit as a success. Because it was funny and somebody got a picture they said they’d email me and because her deep-seeded hatred of fat men or her future eating disorders won’t be realized until much later. Until then, Merry Giftmas (or appropriate holiday)!