A Christmas Tale
When Little Man was four years old he got into a lot of pre-Christmas trouble. It was a rough Christmas break for me. One day really stands out–the day he “ruined” Christmas. It was the penultimate of naughtiness after days of wild and crazy holiday excitement, on the part of the boys (certainly not me). He got into everything. It started with my locked closet that had the Christmas presents in it and ended with house paint…
We have a full key rack with key-laden rings. Little Man got hold of them all (he used a step stool) and systematically tried every key in the locked closet door and managed to open it. You may ask where I was when all this was happening. I was working in my office and I (mistakenly) thought both of the boys were playing or cooking with my mom, who visits every year over Christmas. You know that sense you get that someone’s watching you or something is not quite right? I got that and went to investigate. My mom was in the kitchen by herself and Big Monkey was in the playroom, by himself. When I went in there he was building Legos and the closet door was wide open, with opened stuff spilling out of it. I asked him what was going on and he said, “Stuart did it! I told him not to but he did anyway!” I believed him, because (at the time) he was safety boy and didn’t want to break any rules. I’m running around the house hollering for Little Man (which, by the way, reminds me of what I think is the African proverb, “If you want a dog to come to you don’t yell.”) and I can’t find him anywhere. I go outside and I notice the gate to the shed is wide open, the door to the shed is wide open as well and Little Man is nowhere to be found. I walk around the house and I find him with a kitchen can opener and 2 gallons of house paint on the front porch. He’s trying to open them. I thought I was going to lose my mind! I started to shout, “What are you doing?!!!” to which he responds, “I wanted to paint you something.” You have to admit, that is very sweet. However, I was like a pressure cooker with all the wild boy craziness building up in me and was so upset about the opened gifts in the closet that I climbed up on my soapbox and lectured, as I drug him back to “show” him “how he ruined Christmas.” Yes, I used those very words because I was so upset at the lack of boundaries that child sometimes has in our house. I’m not proud of it–it was a very low parenting moment. He knows he doesn’t belong in there and he pretty much knows no one goes in there without asking–not even Daddy. He had keys everywhere. Gifts were opened and played with. Housepaint out mingling with kitchen tools. How he even managed to unlock that child safety latch gate is beyond me, because he wasn’t nearly tall enough and I couldn’t find what he used to stand on so he could reach. It was a long, long, day and an even longer Christmas break that year. Exhausting, because I had to keep an hairy eyeball on that child at all times–even with grandma around.
Later that night, I did apologize. I told him that he didn’t ruin Christmas and that I was so upset that I exaggerated. However, I did tell him that he wouldn’t be surprised if he kept opening things and Santa certainly wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour. Yes, I did tell him he was being thoughtful by wanting to paint me something–but I did remind him that we don’t use adult things (such as house paint), we use the crayons and markers in the playroom and on paper. Yes, he has drawn on the walls, furniture and the dog, but that’s another story. God bless him (and me, for that matter)!