I always enjoyed the song “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.” As a child, I don’t know which I relished more: the rotten stuff the kid did or the fact karma was catching up with him and he’d be getting zip from Santa. I also got a kick out of my mother making up new lyrics to fit the family dog (“…pooped and peed on the front room floor, somebody snitched on me…”).
The sad truth is, my niece S.Hooligan was born to raise hell. She pushes the envelope on behavior in about any way you could imagine, from language to actions, all of it deliberate. We always said her mother, Diamondqueen, was the worst kid, but she pales in comparison to her own daughter. (Diamondqueen loves to refer to S.Hooligan as “the usurper.”)
Unfortunately, at eight years old, S. doesn’t believe in Santa. I’m not sure she ever really did. It means there’s nothing to hold over her head as an incentive to clean up her act. Of course, strict punishments don’t bring much in the way of results, either, so there’s no reason to think claiming a mythical being won’t be sneaking into the house with the latest from her “want” list will alter her personality. She’s so headstrong and independent, the prospect of punishment makes her act out even worse, as if she’s thinking, “Hah! You think you can break me? Watch this, then do your worst!”
This also makes S.Hooligan, an intelligent girl, totally lacking in common sense. She never developed the “maybe I’d better not do this” warning bell. Now she’s in big trouble for an odious crime: She carved “Go away, J.” in the top of the dining room table where J.Hooligan sits to do his homework. (Okay, “carve” is the word her mother used initially; S. apparently wrote with a ballpoint pen and didn’t quite penetrate the wood. Still, this our grandmother’s table from her good dining room set from when we were kids, which our mother completely refinished before Diamondqueen took it with her into married life.) When Diamondqueen screws the top of her head back on, she’s going to find it a challenge to come up with a punishment A) that fits this crime and B) will make S.Hooligan think twice about doing something like that again. God help us when that kid reaches her teen years.
NUDGE: What hideous thing did you do as a child at Christmastime that threatened to dissuade Santa from delivering your gifts? I have to admit I tended to be well-behaved (except for fighting with my brothers) even when I knew it wasn’t Santa’s but my parents’ approval I had to win in exchange for presents. So, if you were one of those kids who at least tried to be good during December, did you ever do anything, even by accident, you were afraid would activate the “no gifts” policy?
If you didn’t celebrate Christmas, think of another time when you needed to toe the line and didn’t, either on purpose or by accident. What did you do, and what was the result? Did you learn your lesson, or were you beyond help anyhow?