Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Of Mind Games and Manipulation

I need all of you today.  Every last one.  (Every last one except you, creeper, who keeps finding our blog by searching for "kids sleeping feet."  Your services are not required.  Begone.)

The rest of you, gather round.  I want you all to pretend you were good at group projects in school even though those were the days you knew you should have held the thermometer against the bathroom light bulb to fake a fever.  (All together, now:  Group projects were the worst.  Who knew that working together would lower the collective IQ of all these people your grade suddenly depends upon?  And by the way, I was an absolute jewel to work with in those settings.  I definitely didn't close my eyes and massage my forehead in lieu of screaming "GET THERE FASTER!" a la Chandler Bing at my classmates, nor did I silently cross out every other word in thick black Sharpie on the piece of shared butcher paper we were supposed to be using for a brainstorming session because misspellings are against my religion.  The only class in which group work should be allowed is upper level Spanish, because it takes every single brain available to figure out when to use subjunctive verbs and to make sure you're not calling the Pope a potato.  But I digress.)

Here's the problem I need every last one of your minds to noodle over:

I think Adelaide is messing with me.  But she might not be.  Except she probably is.  Or not.

A little back story might be helpful.

A few years ago, Adelaide got off the bus all upset because several kids had been tossing a dirty, dirty lie around about Santa Claus.  Namely that he doesn't exist.

She asked me why they would say such a thing.  I hemmed and hawed and tried to distract her with shiny things and cookies but she kept pressing me.  I tried "If you don't believe you don't receive," but because she is inconveniently bright this was an unacceptable response.  She hounded me so much I tried filing harassment paperwork with management, but it turns out I'm management and have no filing system.  All this ended with me admitting that All right, FINE, there is no, no, NO SANTA CLAUS,  ARE YOU HAPPY DAUGHTER?

She wasn't happy.  She cried.  I was exasperated but relieved that she finally knew.  I gave her a stern lecture on not ruining it for her brothers.  The earth once again spun on its axis.

But now?  Now... she's acting like she believes in Santa again.  At first I thought she was just putting up an altruistic front for the benefit of the two younger believers in our house.  The other day, however, I said something about a gift she had received from Derek and I one Christmas, and her response was, "What?  I got that from Santa, remember, Mom?"  And I just kind of looked real hard at her, trying to divine her thoughts from her facial expressions, but MY GOSH her face is all innocence and earnestness.

She's in third grade, which is definitely in Santa-Disbelief Territory, right?  Except that she's more immature than her classmates in certain ways, one of which is continuing to play make believe games, and isn't Santa the ultimate Make Believe Game?

But... we talked about this.  She knows he's not real.  Doesn't she?

So now we're at the point where I'm asking her all kinds of testing questions like, "Isn't it funny how Santa always uses the same wrapping paper I do for all the rest of the gifts under the tree?" and "I find it extremely curious that Santa's handwriting and mine are so similar you might even call them IDENTICAL."  But then she comes back at me with, "Mom, Santa's been doing this for centuries, don't you think he's intentionally using the same wrapping paper parents do, and by now he's got to be some kind of hand writing expert to mimic each parent's handwriting, all just to throw the older kids and adults off."  She continues on in this vein in such a calm, reasonable tone of voice that I find myself looking at gifts I'm 99% sure I purchased for the kids last summer, but hang on, my memory of buying this lip gloss set is actually pretty darn fuzzy and I don't really recall getting this toy for Atticus at all ohmygosh SANTA?

So, tell me, friends and comrades minus sleeping-kids-feet guy:  Is my daughter even now laughing at me on the school playground while she devises her newest strategy to undermine my hold on mental wellness?  Should I be searching her room for notes titled something like "The power of suggestion and my mother's psyche:  A case study."  And most importantly- SANTA:  REAL OR NOT REAL?

Look at her, lulling you into a false sense of affection, like all she's doing is reading To Kill a Mockingbird and eating oatmeal like our own little eight-year-old old lady.  DIABOLICAL.


  1. Ooh, I don't know if I will be any help to you. I'm still stuck on how to call the Pope a potato in Spanish.

    I never strongly promoted belief in Santa in my house because a) we raised our kids Jewish and b) my brother told his son at a very early age that Santa does not exist in the normal sense of existence and this meant that whenever my kids hung out with their cousin he would give them a lecture about Santa.

    So I was excused from the elaborate schemes that some parents are forced into, when it comes to The Santa Question.

    If I were a child of Adelaide's age, I would have forgotten last year's conversations (and I now have this trait, thanks to menopause!). I might be wondering about Santa, but not obsessed.

    Now I have to go to a meeting, without solving the dilemma.

    but yes, group work is HORRIBLE.

  2. Group work is horrible! Even worse in an online class! (Actually, I have to amend that --group work is horrible if it's a summative assessment. If it's just to learn, and your assessed in another way, it can be fun.)

    But to Adelaide. I'm leaning toward both of you needing therapy in the coming years :-) No, really, I wonder if she just decided that Santa not being real was too awful, and has repressed that whole conversation from last year? But then we're back to therapy . . . Good luck!!

  3. I hated group projects. Just go away and let me do the work myself, and yes, you can all have the grade, I don't care as long as you leave me alone.

    And I can't get past your third grader reading TKAM. Who cares about Santa?


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