Not Me….Not Anymore…..
I hear the heavy breathing and feet running down the hall. Though I’m in that place between awake and sleep, I know exactly who it is, what it means, and what comes next:
“DADDY, SANTA’S BEEN HERE!”
“Go wake your sister up, don’t open any presents until everyone is downstairs, Demetrius.”
He runs into his sister’s room and repeats to her what he has said to me. She literally doesn’t say anything. She squeals loudly and I hear her feet hit the floor.
I stall for time for Kim and I to stumble out of bed and hit the bathrooms.
“SLIPPERS ON BEFORE ANYONE GOES DOWNSTAIRS!”
I know they will want to rip into the presents, and I also know that the last place they’ll look for their slippers will be in their closets (why would they be there?). This buys us enough time to find our glasses and empty our bladders. We all go downstairs. Let me re-state, Kim and I lumber downstairs….I’m pretty sure the wee-ones feet don’t actually touch the steps as they fly down.
Buddy meets me at the bottom of the stairs, I open the door and he goes out to explore his yard and take care of ‘his needs’.
The stockings are off the mantle. The two of them are sitting on the couch. SpongeBob and Hello Kitty slippers bouncing up and down….legs are nowhere near long enough to reach the floor.
Kim grabs the camera, she looks at me and I smile. She tells them, ”go ahead guys.”
Of course, the two of them turn their stockings upside down and dump everything out on the floor. The easiest way to get to everything in them. Candy comes tumbling out and bounces all over the carpet…shining in red and green aluminum foil.
“WHHHHEEEEEGGGEEEAHHHHHHH” (This is a Demetrius autistic happy squeal).
His face is all balled up. His number one requested gift, SpongeBob’s “Atlantis SquarePantis” DVD is being clutched and held closely to his chest. Santa’s delivered!
Maya give a yelp as she sees her Hannah Montana CD for her ‘Hello Kitty Player’. Of course, with Maya, she’s unwrapping chocolate and eating it. Why wait? If you do, Mom and Dad might just limit the amount you can eat. At this point, we are distracted by the Christmas moment. So eat up!
We then hit the tree. I think most everything they asked for is under the tree (or in the stockings). We have to slow Demetrius down. He’s not really paying attention to what he’s opening – he’s just looking for boxes with his name on them to tear open. The damage is contained: Demetrius didn’t open a single box with clothes inside. What a fantastic morning for him. Lucky kid.
Of course, Maya wanted every single gift she got, and is comparing her XXX to Emily’s YYY, etc…. for Maya, its as much about a story as the gift itself. After awhile I just smile and nod. She’s so excited she is just bursting with words….coming out of a mouth that is stained with chocolate. She’s not really paying attention to what she’s saying and neither am I.
Kim’s getting a bit flummoxed. No one is staying still long enough for her to get a good picture. What does she expect?
Demetrius opens a gift from “Mommy and Daddy”. It’s a ‘responsibility chart’, you know, to record chores and good deeds. I don’t look at the love of my life because I know I’ll give away my thoughts with the look on my face, but in my head I’m thinking, “What the hell is this crap on Christmas?” Demetrius just literally drops it once Kim tells him what it is. Why let this ‘gift’ bring him down on such a wonderous morning?
Maya, the ever competitive second child, looks at Kim and asks if she got one too. Of course! Did she really want one? Probably not. But she really wants to make sure she gets as much or about the same as her older brother. I think to myself, “Guys, it said from Mom and Dad on it….but lets be clear, this is a Mommy gift, not a Daddy one.”
Last thought on this subject that went through my head was that if I even knew about this gift, I would have gotten me, I mean, D, a Wii…on principle you know, to balance out the responsibility chart.
We move on and finish up. Maya hits the chocolate again as we begin to unwrap the Mommy and Daddy gifts. Who cares about those? I got some sweaters. Booyah! Kim made over her gifts. She said she liked what I got her. She didn’t ask for the gift receipts, that’s a good sign! Wait! I proactively put them in her boxes. I’ll just leave that one alone….
“Can you help me….”
And so phase two began. Every toy needed more batteries than we expected and took longer to put together than I thought. I believe my parents give certain gifts to my children just to test my engineering acumen…knowing good and goddamn well that I was a history major in college. From 7:45am – 10:00am I worked with the boy to change a Transformer toy from my parents from ‘robot state’ to ‘car state’. It has 36 unique movements to make this happen. AND you have to look at instructions to do it. As soon as I was done, and it actually drove as a car, he wanted me to change it back to the robot.
In my head I said, “Screw that boy! From this point on it’s a car, and you’ll like it as a car, got it!” What I actually said was, “Play with it as a car Demetrius, we’ll change it later.”
We began making and receiving the obligatory calls to/from family. I don’t know why we do this on the 25th. They try to talk to the kids and the kids have no want whatsoever to talk. Talking is useless. They are hopped up on sugar and Santa. They want to play, not talk.
One poor family member actually wanted to talk to the boy, and I dutifully handed him the phone. Demetrius looked at it. He never spoke, he just put it down on the couch and walked over to the toys by the tree. Family members understand. They were kids once themselves.
Kim began sheperding the kids and toys down into the basement. Its 11:00. How the hell did it get to be 11:00? I shower and start cooking the bird.
“How come Santa didn’t bring you any presents.”
I panic for a second. In my head I think, “Not yet Maya, not yet. You are only six…but way too smart sometimes. Please don’t start to think too much. Don’t think this through. Daddy wants the magic for a few more years.” Then it just sort of comes to me in this nervous moment….
“Santa did Maya.”
“What did he bring you?”
“Maya, remember how I told you Daddy is kind of a Grinch about Christmas, and that he didn’t think it was a big deal before you and Demetrius were born?”
“Well, Santa brought me Christmas magic. He brought me a happy heart. There isn’t a present he could give me that would make me smile as much as watching you and your brother open your presents and being so happy to have new toys and a Hannah Montana guitar! Santa was very good to Daddy this year because you kids were so excited and so good that you got what you wanted. Seeing everyone smile so big is the best gift daddy could get.”
“Oh (I don’t know if she understands, I might need to dumb this down a bit).”
“So your heart grew three sizes too big?”
I can tell she’s processing and thinking of something very serious. So I pick her up and sit her on my lap because, you know, we are having a moment.
“Next year you better write a list, Daddy. So you can get something you want. Like more bags for leaves.”
“What do you mean, Maya (I’m trying to read into this, but I’m a bit stumped.)?”
“Well, when you were mowing the lawn to pick up the leaves you ran out of bags and said, ‘Shit. I’m out of bags. I need bags.’ I was jumping on the trampoline, and thought you should ask Santa. Because you really like to mow the lawn.”
“Maya. Remember next year and I’ll write a letter to Santa asking for leaf and grass bags, okay?”
Christmas morning is for smiles, warm hearts, toys adults can’t figure out how to put together and tender moments….and curse words you shouldn’t be saying in front of your children being parroted back to you when you least expect them.
I hope you and yours had as good one as I had.