As promised, we headed to the Deptford Mall on Friday with lots of snacks, distractions, and the always obliging Grammy. Believing that my daughter would run away at the last minute and my little guy would erupt into a torrent of tears as soon as he laid eyes on the jolly fellow, I strategized for the entire ride and even did a little reconnaissance as we circled the point of pictures.
Since we arrived a little early, we all headed over to a kids store for holiday outfits. On our way, however, the Claus himself happened to saunter by on his way to his velour thrown and my daughter, like a groupie with a backstage pass, turned wide eyed and hypnotized as she took in all of his splendor. This was more than amusing for some of the vendors, especially since she walked right into Foot Locker and almost toppled into a sneaker display in all her consternation.
By the time we joined the line a few minutes and one poopy diaper later, we were surrounded by crying children who were simultaneously being bribed and groomed by their already ruffled parents.
I decided the element of surprise would have to be our approach for the little guy (Grammy's job...she pointed out everything around us without every letting him see big SC). As for my little miss, the once excited gift recipient was expressing some doubts about the whole lap and talking thing and so I was forced to offer my appeals. They included:
1) If you don't tell him, how will he know you want a table top ski ball machine?
2) I heard a rumor he's giving out candy canes to all the kids who do a good job.
3) I think I may have a ring pop in my purse.
4) You did it last year.
5) Joseph can't talk, and so as the big sister you must tell Santa WHAT YOU THINK HE SHOULD HAVE on his behalf.
Ho Ho Ho.
She got on his lap like a champ, but refused to look at him or acknowledge him, and I'm pretty sure she was relying on some pretty tricky visualization techniques to pretend she was somewhere else.
As for the little guy, Grammy started swinging and swirling him around and he giggled in reciprocation. Then, she grandly swept him up and plopped him down on Santa's lap, thinking we'd get a picture in before he even knew what the heck just happened.
He looked at us. He looked at Santa. And then he looked back at us with a smile, as if to say, "Who the hell is this guy?"