I am the meanest mom ever.
Why? Because I’m the anti-mom. Anti-screens, that is.
I am anti hours of TV and on-demand movies. I am anti Wii and anti Xbox 360 (because, really, I will actually take you bowling or skiing or skating. You don’t need to pretend to do it in front of the TV). I am anti DSi, anti computer games in which you take care of virtual pets (have you fed your real guinea pig today? Thought not). I am anti iPhone and Droid, anti anything that keeps kids in front of a screen, playing alone, inside, without even their imagination for company. I am totally and vehemently anti all these expensive electronic gadgets for children.
The kids will tell you I am against anything cool. I am against anything their friends have. They’ll say I don’t care if they are the last kids in the WORLD to own an iTouch. (Really? You’re the last kids in the WORLD to step foot in a McDonalds and I’m actually kind of proud of that.)
So what do those little sneaks do? They write top secret letters to Santa. That they mail. That I am not allowed to see. (Note to Caroline: if your letter to Santa is supposed to be top secret, don’t type it on the computer and save it on the desktop. And don’t name it "Top Secret Letter to Santa." And note to Jack: if your letter to Santa is supposed to be top secret, don’t ask me to spell words for you.)
Because they, wisely, still believe in Santa. It’s probably because I’ve confided that Santa will bring them presents as long as they believe in him, and then, once kids don’t believe, he asks the parents to take over. And Santa will buy things they know darn well I won’t.
And they WANT this stuff. Caroline’s letter to Santa, which was brief and filled with clip art, listed one thing. Four times. Jack wants things Caroline wants even though he barely knows what they are.
Now, they’re grateful kids. They’re quite spoiled with love, but there is nothing (other than, often, books) that they get as soon as they want it. But Christmas gives them the license to pour their secret material desires into a letter and mail it off, and it gives them the blind faith and childlike belief in magic that there will be THAT festive box under the tree with their name on it.
So then I can imagine Santa. In his workshop. With a stiff drink. Opening their letters, sighing and calling Mrs. Claus over. "Well, crap, honey. Here are these kids, and they’ve been good, and they don’t want much, but the one thing they each want is the one thing their mother doesn’t want them to have. I’m getting the feeling the father secretly likes these things, which is why I brought him Madden Football and Tiger Woods golf for the Wii last year, but the mother hates these electronic gadgety toys. What do I do?"
And I’d imagine smart, smart Mrs. Claus saying, "Well, dear, you have two choices. Don’t send the electronic game things and break the children’s hearts. Go on strike, just to make that mom happy. She’ll be your biggest fan."
Santa looks worried.
"Or, dear, tell that mother to write a hell of a list. Tell her to put all her secret wishes on there. Then give her everything she wants, and she’ll forget all about what you give the kids."
Santa puts a finger aside his red nose (too much scotch, probably), his eyes twinkle (ditto), and he says, "Great idea! That’s just what I’ll do!"
I’ve been very good this year, and this is what I want for Christmas:
1. I want my house redecorated. Or, in the case of 90% of it, decorated for the first time.
2. I want to lose ten pounds, now.
3. I want to run a ten-mile race in eight-minute miles.
4. I want puberty to pass right by our house and not come in.
5. Every night, I want my family to gather around me and tell me how much they appreciate everything I do. And they have to mean it.
6. I want a new wardrobe, every single season, including shoes and accessories.
7. I want a pool guy. And I guess you can throw in a pool, too, for authenticity.
8. I’d like a separate car, just for me, one that doesn’t have Cheerios and Jolly Ranchers and melted chocolate matted into the crevices of the seats.
9. I’d like Bo, the dog, to live for much longer than it appears planned. But maybe he could stop pooping. Totally.
10. I’d like an absolute assurance that my children will grow up happy, healthy and well adjusted, and that they will call home a lot but not live with me.
Okay? So there you go. Get on it, big boy, because if there’s an iTouch under that tree, there damn well better be some curtains hanging next to it.