Thursday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Thursday, December 14, 2006 |

Juniper's recent vocabulary explosion has unfortunately coincided perfectly with the holiday season, meaning that she's able to identify and convey her total and complete enthusiasm for every single scarved snowman and stuffed Santa that we encounter. And she wants us to sing her Christmas songs. Over and over. And over. We walked into a Hallmark store yesterday to get some giftwrap and her tiny brain practically exploded at the sight of ten thousand tiny statues and stuffed versions of every holiday character she has suddenly decided she loves so much. Dutch said, "That's it. After this stuff is long gone she's still going to whine about it so much we're going to have to take a drive up 75 to Frankenmuth, where it's Christmas 365 days a year. I hope it can be appreciated ironically."

After we left the Hallmark store, we wandered around the rest of Detroit's Renaissance Center, which is a massive, confusing, postmodern structure that always manages to make me feel lost. Dutch never gets lost, though, so we spent our time walking around in there with me making suggestions for which way to go, and Dutch getting progressively less tolerant of my navigation suggestions until he finally said: "Just stop talking. Follow me."

Right after he basically told me to shut up, we came around a corner and found ourselves staring right at Santa. A perfect, chubby whitebearded Santa, sitting in a big green chair amidst the shiny new GM cars in the Rencen's circular showroom, each with a gigantic red bow on its roof. Santa was all alone except for two middle-aged lady elves. There was no line of excited kids, not even another child in sight. The elves beckoned us over, waving their polaroid cameras excitedly, and practcally begged us to let Juniper pose with Santa for a picture. They had the desperate look of adults wearing goofy costumes for the benefit of children when there are no actual children around. We could legitimize them simply with our presence. Although I knew that Juniper would never willingly sit on Santa's lap, I was eager to give them a reason to justify those costumes. Also, it was free, and that meant Dutch was pulling at my sleeve, muttering that the GM Santa was "way better than one at the fucking mall" and that free is way better than "$14.99 for two 3x5s!" and so I acquiesced, despite being fully aware that my child's hypersensitive stranger anxiety would doom the encounter to a Christmas cliche.

Her full-scale freakout did not disappoint my expectations. Somehow she knew that we wanted her to sit on Santa's lap even though we never made one motion towards doing so. Not wanting to turn away what may have been the only child they'd seen all day, Santa and his elderly elves came up with an elaborate plan: we were to wave goodbye, slowly walk away, and while our backs were turned, Santa would hide behind his large green chair, biding his time until Juniper and I returned and got comfortable in his chair ourselves, at which point he would pop out for the picture. I was pretty sure that it was a surefire way to give her a lifelong anxiety about fat men in red coats with fake white beards springing out from behind every chair she'd ever sit in, but we went along with it anyway. The pictures speak for themselves:

Once we left and she had stopped trembling, she clutched the two small cardstock envelopes with the pictures of her with Santa that the elves had given her. Dutch tells me she stared at them for the entire walk home. When I put her to bed last night, as I gave her the last hug and told her that I loved her, she said, "Juni see Santa. Santa nice." Our child is extremely weird.