I drag myself out of bed. Together, my daughter and I walk down stairs to the living room where it is tradition that Santa leaves his presents, unwrapped. This is the indicator that they are from him not me. She gets to the couch where all the cat stuff is laying out. She doesn't notice all the cat paraphernalia because she can hear a meow but can’t see It. But she knows It is there somewhere. She locates the cat carrier which just looks like luggage and finds It inside. She screams with delight, “Santa DID bring me a kitten. He DID! Mommy, Look!” Curbing my enthusiasm, and with all the disgust I could muster up, I said, “WHAT THE...?” (Don’t worry, I stopped myself. I wouldn’t swear. Not on Christmas morning anyway.) She giggles and laughs. She takes It out of the carrier awkwardly, not sure of how to handle It yet, chuckling her way through it.
“MOM, can you believe he brought me a kitten?”
I didn't want a kitten. So flatly and unenthusiastically I reply, “No, I can't believe it...That darn Santa.”
“Mommy, I can’t believe Santa came through!”
“Me either. Grrrr” She laughs.
Its love at first sight. She nestles in with her new kitten and opens some of the cat toys Santa left for her and It.
Screams of joy coming out of her, all giving praise and thanks to Santa - some guy she met in the mall for about three minutes. The same guy who said he couldn’t bring her a kitten, who had dashed her hopes. But, oh happy day, he came through! What a guy that Santa is, huh?! Then it occurred to me just how messed up this whole set up truly is. It doesn’t seem quite fair that Santa gets props for ALL of this.
I want to sit her down and say (or more accurately scream), “What about me? The one who slept in the cold RV all week? Me, the one who snuck into the house at 6:00a.m. every morning, trudging through the snow, so you wouldn’t know I was outside all night? Without details, who paid for this entertainment and who will be paying for it for years to come? Not Santa! Like a deadbeat dad, he's long gone!..." I can’t take credit for any of it because that would mean I knew about It. So Santa had to bring all the accessories too! I couldn't even take credit for that! And since I'm on a roll, I would also say, "...And what about the sleep deprivation? And the weight gain from having to eat only cookies for a week because that’s all there was in the RV? Huh? There is no end to the sacrifices that parents make!" (OK, that last one I may have been pushing a bit too far, but it’s always good to brush up on the mother-guilt skills.)
All the surrendering and sacrifices I had to do and who does she love and adore right now? SANTA CLAUS! That's who! “Santa this and Santa that.” Grrrr. This isn't easy for me to say, but I admit it. I have...Santa Envy. It’s taking everything I have not to say, “Listen, kid, without me there wouldn’t BE a kitten here right now." Oh, I know Santa ultimately delivered It to the Cat Lady. But here's what I want to tell her. "I’M the one who braved the snowstorm to get It and without a sleigh I might add. Your big hero Santa was too much of a scaredy cat to drive his sleigh in the snow a week before Christmas! I’M the one who had to travel to Branford because Santa didn’t have room to put the kitten in his sleigh! He’s so disorganized! And Lazy! Why can't he shave that beard once in a while! I’M the one who sang loud, obnoxious songs to you on the way to the car each morning and night so you wouldn’t hear It meowing in the RV. I‘M the one who got up at 5:00a.m. Christmas morning, brought the little critter in the house and got It all set up. Not Santa!" Then I might take a breather to let her absorb all that. And once she stopped crying I would start right back up again. "...And Ya' know what else...(at this point my veins are pulsing out of my neck. I might as well really let her have it right?)...Let me tell you THIS little pearl of wisdom. I think your good buddy Santa Claus, who gave you a kitten when I wouldn’t, is a slacker. Yup, that’s right. I said it. A slacker! He got me to do all the dirty work and took all the credit for it. Yup. Just like he gets the elves to do all the work and he takes ALL the credit. When in essence, all Santa really does is be a glorified delivery boy. He's just the Fedex Guy dressed up in a red suit, that's all..."
I work with people like Santa. He uses others to gain notoriety and fame. He should spell his name like Santa “Claws” because he uses his claws to climb his way to the top, not caring who he destroys on the way up. The Tooth Fairy has never asked me to get up in the middle of the night; the Easter Bunny never asked me to lay eggs around the house for him; But that Santa, why, he's nothing but a charlatan. I never did like him after I saw him kissing my mother. Poor Mrs. Claus, home baking cookies, not knowing what he was up to while making his "rounds", staying out all night, supposedly delivering presents to all the girls and boys. How many other parents did he get to do his work this year so he could be Mr. Casanova? I know. Someone should tell Mrs. Claus. Or maybe someone should send her the link to this blog and let her read it for herself. (No good philanderer!)
At this point, having self-medicated myself with a little spiked eggnog that I'm having for breakfast, I take a deep breath and say, "...So see, Rachel, Santa isn’t such a nice guy. I’m the one you should be loving right now. ME! Your Mommy!!!”
That’s all I wish I could say. But instead I grit my teeth as she proclaims her love for the fat man in the red suit as “The Best” and I say, "yes, Dear, Santa IS the best." It’s not fair. But as parents, is anything ever really fair?
(Maybe this year she should hang around with that kid and her mother that likes to give all the facts. Nah!)
So I resign myself to the fact that I will need to discuss this unfair treatment and unrighteousness next week in therapy. After all, it’s a holiday and my therapist has the day off, otherwise she would have gotten a call that morning so I could express my jealousy over this Santa character, and explore the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy I was experiencing having only gotten my daughter books, clothes and necessities for Christmas. But my emotional and psychological well-being is not what is important. So it will have to wait. Repress it, Sharon. Repress it. Ah, NOW it feels like Christmas Day!!
As if he wasn't all magical and powerful enough, Claus wrote my daughter a letter to accompany the kitten. It went like this:
Merry Christmas, Rachel
This Kitten needed a good home and I thought of you. Just remember, with this kitten comes responsibilities. You need to feed it, give it water, empty its litter box, and most of all, give it love and affection. If you do these things with kindness, you will have a little furry friend for a long time.
P.S. Don't worry about your Mommy not wanting the kitty. As soon as she gets to know it, she will love it too. You'll see.
Friggin' know-it-all. The arrogance of him professing to know how I will feel. Add that to the therapy agenda too! I'm making my OWN list! How do you like that, Santa?! We'll just see if YOU'VE been naughty or nice!
(Where are my blood pressure pills?)
Anyway, on to what IS important. What to call It. I liked the name It but how could I explain that to my daughter? So It will need a real name I guess. He’s a silver Persian and is all fluffy gray. I suggested “Pussy Willow” but didn’t want to be calling it “Pussy” for short. Rachel suggested “Silver” which resulted in me breaking out into singing, “Silver and Gold, Silver and gold, means so much more when I see…” I vetoed the name Silver because there would have to be a “Gold” to match at some point. NOT going to happen. He/she’s undercoat is white and just the top layers are silver. We joked about It coming down the chimney, and maybe he really is all white but just has ashes all over him. She suggested calling It “Ash”. But I could see myself calling out to him/her, “C’mere Ash. Here, Ash hole”. Not good. I suggested we give it time and see if he does something that will help us.
Through the day, as It found its way around the house, It kept climbing into places that it shouldn’t. The first of which was the Christmas tree, as many of you have probably already envisioned. It batted its paws at the low lying tree branches and low hanging ornaments. At times the whole tree shook, with me standing by, watching as heirloom ornaments were on the brink of destruction.
Finally, I found the silver lining to all this adjustment that I will have to do with living with a new kitten. It would climb behind furniture and come out all dusty. It was great the way he/she dusted in spots that hadn’t been dusted since I moved into this house in 1996. At one point, It was so overcome by dust that he/she started to choke. I thought I was going to have to do the Heimlich maneuver on It. When hearing this, my daughter, being a novice at cat ownership asked, “What? I’m going to have to lick it?” “Yes, honey, that’s what good pet owners do. Now go lick YOUR cat.” (Not to worry, I eventually explained what the Heimlich is.) By the way, It didn’t choke to death and I didn’t have to do the Heimlich at all. A few heaves in and out cured whatever it was, and then he/she moved on to licking its butt. (Note: After seeing that, no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation will be done on It to save its life either.)
“How about Dusty?” she asked. “No, we know someone who has the nickname Dusty.” But we were on to something there. I said, “How about "Mop"?” No. He doesn't look like a mop. Furry, but not mop-like. "We usually use the Swiffer to dust the floors. How about “Swiffer”? She said, "Yeah, but we’ll spell it “Swiffur” because his/her fur collects the dust!" Not convinced, and taking it one step too far (I know, as usual), I said, "Or how about “Transfur” since we don’t know what sex he/she is. Trans and fur? You know??" A unanimous look of disgust and, "Ok, 'Swiffur' it is!"
So, everyone, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my family, It, I mean, Swiffur. Swiffur, this is everyone.
“Mom, you said if Santa brought a kitten that we could keep him, right?”
“Unfortunately Rachel, that is what I said, but I said that only because I didn’t think he would bring one. Now say your goodbyes, we need to bring him to the pound now.”
“Just kidding. Yes, you can keep him.”
"Thank you, Mommy!! I love you!" Accompanied by the big hug I was waiting for.
My Kaneclusion: "Who’s the big hero NOW, huh San-taaa?"
(They all can't be mature conclusions. :-))
See you in 2010!
Happy New Year to Everyone!