Sunday, December 20, 2009

Project Santa: Success!!

Attention:  We have a successful interaction with Santa!  I am very excited.  No one cried, there was minimal clinging, and we actually sat with Santa. 

I was actually getting stressed about getting a Santa picture since Franklin has no actual mall.  I was even contemplating driving an hour and a half to Asheville just to go to the mall.  But, small towns, like animals trapped on an isolated island, have their own methods of adaptation, so instead of the mall - Santa shows up at Kmart.  He also shows up at The WhistleStop, which is, I suppose, the closest thing Franklin has to a mall.  It's a bunch of crafty stores and antique shops inside one giant building (well, the size of a couple of Walmarts, maybe).  Santa was on site from 1pm to 5pm and we were there to greet him.

I will lament that poor Santa didn't have much in way of decoration or throne to sit upon.  The Gazebo had lights on it, but no one turned them on.  There wasn't a Christmas tree in his Gazebo (although the rest of the "mall" had one every 10 feet), and his traditional big cushy, velvet chair to sit on was replaced by a hard wooden bench.  His little Elf (a rather pathetic, sad looking teenagish girl) looked pretty void of Christmas spirit, and common sense - like that required to GET OUT OF THE WAY when parents are trying to take a picture.  The poor mom before us was trying all sorts of angles to get just her adorable baby on Santa's lap and cut out the sour-faced elf.

I will say this about small towns and Santa's in random places: you don't have to wait and they are very patient.  Operation Santa Picture took some time - at least a good 20-30 minutes from the time Santa was first spotted and the clinging and crawling over Mommy began.  It was quite a process.

First, there was the acknowledgment of Santa.  Hi Santa - Look, there's Santa - When Santa first walked in, it really didn't go very well.  First, he (actually a she, but for tradition's sake..,), he came walking in shouting ho-ho-ho and ringing these very loud jingle bells.  Scared the girls to bits.  Other parents with sensory kids will appreciate this.  Clinging, almost crying and climbing over mommy ( literally, climbing up as if trying to climb over me) was the result.  Thank goodness we were actually a good 30 yards or more away from Santa when this happened.  Imagine had we been right next to him...

So, Step One: seeing Santa from afar.  This included watched an adorable 14ish month old baby in a red Santa dress waddle towards the steps to get to Santa.

Step Two (after Santa stopped ringing the stupid bells), approach the Gazebo and see Santa from about 20 feet away.  I sat on the floor with them and let them cling while Grammy and I talked up Santa.

Step Three:  Observe other happy children with Santa (see adorable baby above).  Adorable baby modeled how to pick a toy from Grumpy Elf's box, how to look up at Santa adoringly, and how to sit on Santa's lap and look right at the camera while mom took a picture.  Abby and Natalie never did any of these things, by the way, despite the baby's lovely demonstration.

Step Four: Avoid Santa and look at giant blow-up Penquin on the steps of the Gazebo.

Step Five:  Sit on steps of Gazebo with - not looking at Santa.  (ps - at the time, I thought this might be our only picture with Natalie, Abby, and Santa!)

 Step Six:  Acknowledge Santa exists.

 Step Seven:  Allow Grammy to introduce Elmo and Mouse to Santa.

Step Eight:  Wonder how to rescue Elmo and Mouse.

 Step Nine: Watch as Mommy takes a picture with Santa not realizing that is a part of the ploy to get us to approach Santa.  This also has the desired effect of booting Miss Grumpy Elf off the bench and out of the pictures.

 Step Ten:  Mommy gets Natalie to come to her by picking little snow men out of Grumpy's box and tantalizing her with it.  (Natalie is the less squeamish of the two)  It had the desired effect and I was able to pick her up and sit her on the bench.  It was my hope that if Natalie didn't freak out, Abby would be willing to approach us as well.  And, it worked!  At first Natalie and Abby have to appear nonchalant and not pay too much attention to the guy in the Big Red Suit (or Mommy who is desperately calling their names to try to get them to look at the camera.)

But, finally, finally, they relax enough to smile (sort-of) and look at Mommy.  Success!

Okay, so this isn't your typical kids on Santa's lap picture, but considering last year's crying and wailing, I'd say this was a huge improvement and I am quite pleased.

Project Santa Desensitization is a success.

1 comment:

BenC said...

I love step eight! Abby is like, "sis, how are we gonna get elmo and mouse?" and Nat is like, "you distract that old fat man and I'll sneak up and liberate our stuffed friends, bwahahahahaha!!!!"