I have seen at least ten pictures (just today) on social media of ambivalent, scared, or crying kids sitting on Santa's lap. In fact, and more accurately, they're pictures of children trying to desperately leave the lap of a stranger. They make me so uncomfortable. While, as a mom, I understand the pressure to do the holidays the "right way" and create magical moments for our kids, but there are many reasons why I don't let my kids sit on Santa's lap. Honestly, I'm not going to apologize for it, no matter how many times you call me a Grinch.
While my kids still believe in Santa, and I think that's awesome, we don't sit on his lap or wait in line for hours to tell him secrets. There are so many reasons why. I think this is another example of parents trying to create quintessential holiday experiences for our kids that end up rarely (if ever) living up to anyone's expectations.
Besides, it's creepy.
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
That sounds like the trailer for a horror movie, not the lyrics to a children's song. Nope. Not for my kids. We don't do scary stuff the rest of the year, and I refuse to use a creepy stalker and the promise of presents to get my kids to behave (no matter how tempting the thought might be).
Do I think that people who wait in line for Santa photos are horrible parents? Of course not. However, I hope you consider the possibility that that photo of your crying child was not worth the hour that you waited in line at the mall. It's certainly not for me.
It Creeps Me Out
I Don't Want Them To Feel Uncomfortable
This is the most important reason for me. I try not to ask my kids to do something for me that might make them uncomfortable, unless it's necessary for health reasons. The last thing I want is for them to do something that hurts, because they think I want them to or need them to. That idea is horrifying to me. It's not worth it.
I Don't Do The Mall Or Other Crowded Places
You may be wondering why I like it that my kids believe in the magic of Santa, but I don't want them to sit on his lap. It's super confusing for kids to see a Santa on every corner and at 100 different workshops. The web of lies has to get so complex to keep up the facade. Is he the "real" Santa or just Santa's helper? I don't want to have to tell my kids a million freakin' lies so I can get a picture I probably won't like anyway.
We Make Our Own Traditions
I think every family should feel free to choose the holiday traditions that they like, then toss the rest. No one should feel like they have to do something that's not fun for them, even if everyone else is doing it.
Waiting In Lines Is The Worst
I am not a patient person, and my kids don't have the attention spans (or bladder capacity) to wait in long lines. It sucks for everyone.
I refuse to pay a pretty significant amount of money to stand in line in a crowded space to get a picture (or not) of my child doing something. We can't afford it, because you just know every single family member is going to want a picture. No, not the semi-affordable small pictures. They want the ridiculously over-priced large pictures. Duh.
It Reinforces Commercialism
Just yesterday my 7-year-old daughter thought she'd be funny and add a car to her Christmas wish list. I had to explain that that was an unreasonable request and then had to have a discussion about asking Santa for something small. I am pretty sure that she's going to figure things out before the end of the season.
My Kids Don't Like It
Sure, they say they like it and want to do it, but last time one of them spent the hour in line literally hanging off of me and freaking out and one of them had anxiety about talking to a stranger and cried, while the people behind us complained. It was horrible. The picture looked like they were trying to escape a red-suited kidnapper. I realized it was not actually fun for them.
I Don't Want To And That's My Choice
As parents, we have a right to raise our kids to share our values. I don't want to force my kids to do something uncomfortable or force myself to try to live up to a set of holiday-related expectations and plans that don't end up feeling all that magical. It's too much stress during an already stress-filled time of year. Perfection is the enemy of good. I don't have to be a perfect Pinterest mom. I am enough, and so are you.