• Kristina Mulligan

Visiting Santa...?

My kid doesn’t go sit on Santa’s lap. 

Yes, we celebrate Christmas. 

No, we’re not trying to end Christmas. 

Yes, we embrace the Christmas spirit. 

No, we don’t judge you for bringing your children to visit Santa. 

Flynn is overwhelmed by crowds and unfamiliar people. He doesn’t like being touched and he has very high anxiety, especially when it comes to separating from me. These are some of his personal boundaries. There are so many times in his life, though his only a toddler, that he is not in control of what happens to his own body. He is constantly poked, prodded, and evaluated by so many doctors and specialists. Every day of the week, he has teachers and therapists in his space, touching him and working him to and past his limits. Of course, these are all people and methods that are helping him, but to Flynn, it’s overwhelming and stressful.

He is very often on sensory overload because of these unavoidable situations. But we, as parents, must push him past those boundaries to give both present and future Flynn the best shot at the best life. Sitting on Santa’s lap is not a necessary push for us. To force him to wait in line for an extended period of time, to do something that overwhelms him, and then take a picture of him in tears feels contradictory to the mother that I want to be. 

In the past, when Flynn was very small and celebrating his first Christmases, our number one concern was his health. We still take precautions because he is immuno-compromised, but he is stronger than he has been. Now, that he’s old enough to use his voice though, he says “No.” He’s walked by Santa and waved, we even got a high-five from my arms, but when we ask if he wants to sit on his lap like the other kids, he doesn’t want to. And that’s okay. 

Today, his answer is no. Tomorrow, he may tells us yes. We may get in line and wait for an hour, but when we get to the front, he may change his mind and that’s okay, too. This is one time where he has a choice. Out of all of his obligations, he doesn’t have to do this. 

So, we write Santa a letter. We call him on the phone. We track him on Christmas Eve and bake him cookies. There are other ways to embrace the Christmas season and to believe in Santa Claus. Every family is different and this year, at least, you won’t see Flynn on Santa’s lap. I’m pretty certain that he’ll have a great Christmas, just like everyone else. 

And I think we’re still pretty good parents, too. 

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