This weekend we took A to go see Santa. Overall I’d give the experience a big thumbs down. We had our hopes pretty high because last year went so well. She sat on Santa’s lap no problem, and we got a fantastic picture. This year we decided to go downtown where Santa would be visiting with the kids in the historic Log House. We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes, and because A had decided not to nap, she was not too cooperative. When it was finally our turn we entered the Log House and she proceeded to grip my arm like Santa was the scariest thing she’d ever seen. (Ok he probably was) The volunteers there assured us that we could put her on Santa’s lap anyway because he was wearing gloves with grippers on them so the kids can’t get away. Ummm…what?! I crouched down next to Santa with A, we took a quick picture, and out we went. I couldn’t stop thinking about the volunteer telling me I should put my daughter on Santa’s lap anyway, even though she was terrified.
I know pictures with Santa are an important tradition. I just can’t bring myself to force my child to sit on the lap of a perfect stranger if she doesn’t want to. Later I started to question myself. Am I never going to make A do anything she’s afraid of? Will I make things too easy on her if I just let her walk away from anything that might be a little scary? I often find myself second guessing my decisions as a parent which is good and bad. I like analyzing what I do so I can be better in the future, but I also drive myself crazy sometimes worrying that I’m not doing what is best. When I reflect on this situation I feel like I made the right choice. There will definitely be times in A’s life where I will push her to work past her fears. Maybe the first time she has to play the violin in front of a crowd of parents I’ll have to tell her “I know you’re scared but you can do it!” Maybe the first time she has a spelling test at school I’ll have to say “You studied hard for this. Its ok to be nervous; just do your best!”. Those will be times where I’ll help her to use her “fear” to make her stronger. Sitting on a strange bearded man’s lap just so Mom and Dad can have a picture for the fridge…not so much.