Ah, Christmas. That joyous time of year in which people find additional ways to judge you and your parenting. Are you buying your kid a boatload of presents? Judgment. Are you not buying your kid any presents at all? Shame. Are you keeping religion out of the holiday season? How dare you. The scrutiny is endless, but (in my opinion) the assumptions people have made about my parenting because I made the horrible freakin' decision to let my kid sit on Santa's lap, is by far the worst part of this season.
I have only been a parent for a little over two years, so my son has only sat on Santa's lap twice. The first time we took him he was a 4-month-old baby, completely oblivious to whatever the hell was happening. The picture was adorable, in that he had this bewildered look on his face. The second time we took him he sat on Santa's lap for two seconds, then looked around, then started crying. The photographer snapped a picture milliseconds before I took my son back into my arms. The kind woman asked if we anted to try again, but I said, "No, thanks." My son clearly wasn't happy, and I wasn't going to force him to remain unhappy in the hopes that he would stop crying and we could get a "decent" picture. We paid for the photograph of him crying on Santa's lap, and went on our way.
Of course, I made the mistake of posting said picture on Facebook, and another mother commented on how I was essentially scarring my son for life. This particular parent's friends then started chiming in, and the assumptions and accusations started flying the only way they really and truly only can when you're a keyboard warrior in the comment section. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. So, if you made the "mistake" of taking your kid to see Santa Claus because it's the holiday season and you like traditions, know that any assumptions made about your parenting are just that: assumptions. You'll never make everyone happy; you'll never do everything every other parent thinks you should be doing; and you'll never have to worry about me judging you because, honestly, this is just ridiculous.
I Don't Believe In Bodily Autonomy
This is a frustration accusation, to be sure. I do believe in bodily autonomy and I'm already doing the work necessary so that my son not only understands that he is the only person in charge of his own body, but that he has no right to ever believe he is in charge of someone else's. However, claiming I don't care about my son's bodily autonomy by providing him with an opportunity to sit with Santa once a year, is like claiming I don't care about my son when I take him to get his very necessary, life-saving immunizations. Sometimes, my son just can't make the call because he's, you know, a toddler. I care about his bodily autonomy, but when he wants to wear shorts and it's January, I have to step in and essentially decide things about his body, for him.
Two seconds on Santa's lap will not scar my son for the rest of his life, or somehow teach him that he doesn't have control over his own person. Just like taking him to get his shots won't, either.
I Ignore My Kid And His Needs
Yeah, that's not a thing. When I took my son to see Santa, we essentially just tried it out. The moment he wasn't happy, I scooped him up and off we went. Why? Because I do care about my kid and his needs. He didn't like sitting with Santa this year, so we'll try next year when he's older and capable of understanding exactly who that jolly gentleman is. If he still doesn't want to and/or doesn't like it, then that's that.
I Don't Care About My Kid's Sense Of Safety
I'm not sure what certain people assume happens when I take my kid to see Santa. However, judging by some parents' reactions, I think they're assuming I drop my kid off with a stranger and just, like, leave. That's not a thing, you guys.
I am right there, all of two steps away, the entire time. The moment my son becomes upset, I take him in my arms and off we go. He knows exactly where I am because I am in front of him the entire time. He knows he isn't in danger and all he has to do is voice his discomfort and I will be there. That's the definition of safety, people.
It Doesn't Bother Me To See Or Hear My Kid Cry
That's a false. I think it will always bother me to see my kid cry, even when he's a grown-ass adult and upset over the Seattle Seahawks losing a football game. I can't stand it, which is why I don't make my kid sit on Santa's lap for an extended period of time if he is upset. If my toddler son shows me that he doesn't like what's going on by crying, I take him in my arms and we leave.
I Am Fine Putting My Kid In Danger
What, um, danger? There is no danger. Can we stop with the danger aspect of this entire holiday tradition, please? I am right there. My partner is right there. A million other people in the center of an over-crowded mall are all right there.
I Don't Understand Or Want To Teach My Kid About Consent
I have only been a mother for two years, so I have more than a few years ahead of me for people to judge and shame me and say things that will, probably, hurt my feelings. I mean, it's just bound to happen. However, the day someone told me that I would essentially be raising a potential sexual predator, because I put my son on Santa's lap and failed to teach him about consent, is one of the most infuriating, hurtful days of my mom life, to date. I can't comprehend this allegation, as I find it in line with the idea that giving my son vaccinations or making sure he is properly dressed for the weather is somehow me ruining the concept of consent, but here I am.
Consent has and always will be one of the most important lessons (I think) I can teach my son, and I work hard every day to teach him that lesson while simultaneously protecting him and/or making decisions for him that he cannot make, because he's a 2-year-old toddler who doesn't think the laws of gravity apply to him. Two seconds on Santa's lap, in which I am right there and ready to take him away from Santa if he is upset, will not undo all of that hard work. Stop.
Have you tried taking your kid to go see Santa during the holidays? Trust me when I say the endeavor is anything but lazy. You have to wait in line for an untold but probably way too long period of time. You have to work your ass off to either get your kid to smile, or apologize to the photographer for wasting .339 seconds of their time because your kid is not having it. It's tough work, my friends.
Basically, I'm A Bad Parent
Eh, just add it to the list of all the other parenting choices I've made that means I'm a "bad parent." I was a "bad parent" for breastfeeding in public. I was a "bad parent" for co-sleeping. I was a "bad parent" for going back to work after my son was born and choosing to be a working mom. I mean, the list is endless. Not everyone is going to agree with my parenting choices and, hey, that's OK. In the end, I know what's right for my kid.