Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Photos Gone Wild

I'm sure the whole visiting Santa thing is very puzzling to children. I mean, the guy is supposed to be in the North Pole packing his sleigh full of dolls and nerf guns. Instead, he is hanging out in Fred Meyer, plopping crying children on his lap and laughing his jolly Santa laugh. Simultaneously, he also happens to be at the local mall. And the mall across town. And on the street corner downtown. Why, he even paid a special visit to Grandma's house. To add to the confusion, St. Nicholas stopped by our Church's Christmas festival. He looked more like a fancy priest than a Santa Clause and promptly disrobed in front of all the children when the last tot left his lap.

Luckily, Jacob doesn't think there is anything fishy about seeing Santa wearing a maroon suit and grey beard at Fred Meyer and then seeing him 30 minutes later in a bright red suit and white beard in front of Annie's Pretzels at the mall. Phew. I have one more year to come up with a plausible explanation for that one.

Even though my children have had their fair share of Santa this year, I really wanted to get photos taken at the mall so that I could order a photo ornament for the tree. I have one from last year and I think it might be fun to get a new one each year.

So after work today, I brought the kids home, shoved some snacks down their gullets, pulled out Ryan's nearly-too-small Santa outfit, and shucked them both into the car. By 6:15 we were off to the mall. Yeah, I know. What was I thinking heading to the mall on Christmas Eve eve. I knew there would be a line, but I guess I over-estimated my patience and how quickly the snaking line would move, and under-estimated how many children still needed to visit Santa.

It was insane.

The line nearly wrapped around the entire Santa-set-up and moved at a snail's pace. Ryan wanted to be held nearly the entire time so I spent a good amount of time juggling him and my heavy purse while trying to keep Jacob from causing too much trouble. Five minutes into our adventure, my hand holding Ryan's rump felt sopping wet. I set Ryan down and saw urine literally dripping from my hand. Five beads of urine fell from my hand to the floor. His diaper had gotten twisted and he soaked the entire front of his outfit. I set him down, right in the middle of the freaking line, and changed him on the mall floor. And washed my hand with a baby wipe approximately 5,000 times.

I continued to hold Ryan, clutching his pee-covered Santa body against my own. I prayed that his pee would dry before we reached Santa. Not only would the pee spot not be ideal for the photo, but I would feel kind of horrible setting a pee covered baby on his lap (but if the pee dried and Santa had no idea, then there would be less opportunity for him to judge me).

Catching snowflakes.

As I held a squirming Ryan, Jacob joined a group of three boys who were standing as close to the gate that surrounded Santa land as possible. They were catching fake, falling snowflakes in their hands and tugging at the fake snow that covered the ground. (They were also trying to shake the trumpet-playing reindeer who was standing guard nearby but I am trying to maintain an aura of plausible deniability about that, especially since a chunk of the reindeer's tail mysteriously went missing).

Creepy reindeer playing the piano.

I swear I looked down at my phone for one second (with one hand because the other had a death grip on heavy Ryan who was slowly slipping in the direction of the earth's core- friendly reminder to self: do more lifting at the gym).When I  looked back at Jacob he was holding an empty, smashed soda can and trying to catch falling snowflakes in it. Upon further questioning, I determined that he had found the discarded soda can near the garbage can and was trying to catch enough snow to make a snowball (duh, mom). The good mom that I am, never missing an opportunity to dash the hopeful dreams of a young boy, I jumped right in and totally ruined that fun.

As the clock ticked away and the line moved painfully slowly (literally, my arm was about to fall off), Jacob suddenly announced that he had to go pee. I thought about making him wait, until he grabbed at his crotch and started to do the OMG-dance. I know that dance well. I've utilized it many times. With my hands full of a 25 pound baby, a 25 pound baby's special blanket, and a large purse, I desperately pleaded with the people around me to hold my spot before I grabbed Jacob's hand and walked him quickly to the other end of the mall (where the restrooms were) and back.

After our 10 minute detour (and one purchase of a dozen chocolate chip cookies), we arrived safely back in our spots in line only to discover that some kid had unplugged the one cord that powered the entire Santa Land. Santa Land looked like downtown Bremerton, dark, lifeless, and possibly hiding a meth-head around the next corner. It only took 15 minutes for a vigilant mall cop to arrive and PLUG IN THE FREAKING CORD. Seriously? I could have done that. At least that extra 15 minutes gave my children extra time to eat four cookies each. Dinner, bam!

Washing down a cookie dinner

As we neared the finish line, Jacob kept wandering off to a nearby phone kiosk. I promptly told him not to touch ANYTHING. Apparently the air i the mall is very thick and it takes sound 30 seconds to travel 15 feet because he touched approximately ALL the phones before he shoved his hands in his pockets and stomped back to the line. That's when Jacob found another troupe of children to harass and instigated a cotton ball snowball fight. Ryan saw that they were having fun and, for the first time all night, wanted down to play. I was just about to tell Jacob to stop throwing fake, cottony snowballs at the other children when he pitched one right at a Christmas tree and knocked down an ornament.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the kids changed games. But quickly sucked in another tense lung-full of breath when I realized the new game was "let's-kick-each-other-in-the-shins-over-and-over-again." Ryan was the instigator this time. He would go up to Jacob, kick him in the shin and giggle. Jacob would laugh, then kick back. Then Ryan would kick the kid next to Jacob. The kid kicked Ryan back. They were giggling but I new that would be short-lived. I instructed Ryan to stop kicking and his response was to walk over to me and kick me right in the leg. This caused an uproar of laughter from the parents around me but did nothing to discourage Ryan from kicking.

The kicking did not stop. I approached the kids and was about to threaten some major time out when Ryan plowed into Jacob, knocking him and another kid onto Santa's red carpet.  Before I knew what was going on, the three of them were right in the middle of a wild game of pig pile. I stopped them, of course, but not before snapping some incriminating photos.

Right about here is when I wished I had a shirt that said "I'm just the babysitter."

I know it sounds like my boys were horrible, but seriously, they waited in that line for an entire hour, wearing uncomfortable Christmas swag, in the middle of a mall (so many things to touch and places to run), right at bedtime. So considering all that, they did pretty well.

And the pictures....

Well, aside from the creepy, laughing Santa, they turned out pretty good. Forgive the quality, they are pictures of pictures (my download code isn't working).

And from these pictures, you can't even tell that they were causing so much trouble.

Phew, another year in the bag!

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