Thursday, December 24, 2009

SOS: santa is turning the sleigh around

Our children have been absolutely, positively NIGHTMARISH.

They are ghouls haunting our souls with their terrible behavior. Over the past few days, their bad behavior has come to a rolling boil. The fighting, the screaming, the whining. I don't know if it's because they are so excited about Christmas and Santa ... or what, but it is bad.

Very bad.

The whole, "You better watch out, you better not pout" means nothing to our kids. You'd think the lyrics of the song were, "You better throw a fit, you better fight and yell, you better make your parents scream, 'WHAT THE BLOODY HELL!"

Tonight during what was supposed to be a beautiful candlelit Christmas dinner that Charlie and I spent much of the day preparing, in the midst of Henry screaming and Carolyn and William telling us how they don't like this - or that - or this or that on their plate, Elizabeth attempted to catch her paper popper hat on fire. I shudder to think what might have happened had she been successful. I'm imagining that the entire table would have gone up in flames once the hat ignited the tablecloth.

Everyone was sent directly to bed. There was no opening the one Christmas present that Charlie and I traditionally place on everyone's dessert plate. There was no reading, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." While I hate to use this word, the only word that I can think to adequately sum up their behavior is B-R-A-T.

Charlie and I told the kids that Santa is going to skip right over our house because we are planning to lock the fireplace. And yes. We are seriously considering filling their stockings TO THE BRIM with sticks, rocks and coal because I truly do not see any good that would come from condoning their terrible behavior. After the night that we've had, the last thing that I want is for our children to wake up to a house full of brand new presents.

But then - what in heaven's name do we do with our garage full of toys?!



  1. It's all the red dye. I saw your Christmas cookies. Good Lord. No wonder they are insane. Are you giving them candy canes too? You are, aren't you?

    S.T.O.P. For the the love of little baby Jesus born on Christmas day.

    Mine had sprinkled covered cookies one day last week and they positively drove me NUTS. I am talking that I actually went hoarse from yelling at them that day. Then I took all the cookies and threw them out and now they are fine again.

    Ho Ho Ho

    Merry Christmas, Jen!! Santa is almost here. I'm watching on NORAD.

  2. Michele - we didn't eat any of those cookies. I made the kids a batch of chocolate chip cookies, separately. And no, they haven't been eating candy canes. I really wish I could blame this on food, but I'm wracking my brain and they've been eating REALLY well the past few days. Lots of yogurt, crackers, fresh fruit.

    I don't know WHAT is going on and Charlie and I are really bummed because for us, Christmas is the BEST time of year. My mother's suggestion was to give them ONE gift and send everything else back. Meanwhile, he and I will open all the presents that we bought for each other.


    I'm a mean one.... Mrs. Grinch.

  3. My seven yr old has been so bad all week, just so defiant. I am seriously debating only giving her the clothes and putting her sister's name on all her toys.

  4. return the gifts and donate the money to charity...okay, maybe give them one gift each and donate the rest. aren't you moving soon anyway? less to move cross-country!

  5. I am ALL FOR Strictness, as I am possibly the meanest Mommy ever - but I say go for it - my rule is if they are overtired/overstimulated/off schedule because of MY fault of scheduling planning, all bad behavior is my fault (although my kids are younger than yours - jessie is 2 and tyler turned 4 7 days ago). But don't ruin Christmas - just turn the volume up on the discipline Saturday!

  6. What if you held off the gifts for one day? Tell them Santa didn't come because of their behaviour at dinner, etc... but that if they're good for Christmas Day, perhaps he can be motivated to come to your house one day late? A "last chance" as it were?

    If that doesn't work, I'm with donating the gifts to a charity. After seeing your pictures from Mexico, I know there are so very many children who could use the toys.

    Good luck. Sorry it sucked tonight. Hope things are better tomorrow.

  7. Make them earn their gifts after tomorrow. Each day they are good they may open one gift. I feel your pain though, it stinks when life lessons interfere with your desire to do something awesome for them.

  8. I had to get up and write because I am upset that you are upset that the children are upset.
    Candlelight dinners are wonderful for adults. You have 5 year olds---three of them ---and they are excited--and sick of all the houpla about Christmas.
    Please keep it simple---very simple. These are days that you will remember for a long time---so relax and enjoy. I think that you have been home for a week with the kids while Charlie has been out in the work force, and it is a hard, hard job raising children. They have been taught to have expectations---Please do not give them too much STUFF. They are still babies until they are seven.


  9. J--They're excited. With kids, that manifests in so many weird ways, including fire-setting. Ahem.

    You know I am a stickler for good behavior and have no problem pulling the plug on events when the boys get out of hand, but Christmas is highly overwhelming at age 5. Or any age, for that matter! Wake up tomorrow with your biggest fakest smile and kill those kids with kindness. Sometimes that approach makes me actually FEEL nice... but in this case what's important is that Christmas day be as low-key and indulgent as possible. When they misbehave, just imagine they are two years old and REDIRECT AND SEPARATE as necessary.

    And keep the matches in a locked cabinet.

    Yours in the trenches,

  10. Because my husband works tomorrow, we are having Christmas on Saturday. Santa will simply come tomorrow night instead of tonight. Maybe you can delay yours an extra day?

    Good luck with what ever you decide, and Merry Christmas!

  11. Oh, darn. Blaming it on food is what I do.

    Okay, I would definitely still have Christmas. It will all be better tomorrow! But you better get to bed because they will be up at 4am fer sure.

  12. I am all for carrying through with your threats....I have a co-worker who gave her daughter sticks and switches and the daughter definitely remembers what for - give the toys to the kids in Mexico.
    Next year will be better - really.
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  13. Hi Jen, have you considered putting a potato or two in the stockings?

    That way they will think they're missing out on some presents, even if they aren't, because of their bad behaviour? Might make it stick better than the empty promises of "no presents?" Good luck!

  14. Poor you! This is what happened one year in my family when I was about 5 or 6 years old (and my siblings were even younger): My family is Austrian and we celebrate St. Nicolas day on December 6th, where you place your boots outside and St. Nicolas comes and fills them with treats. Well, that year I am pretty sure we had been brats all day. One thing I specifically remember is that we were supposed to clean up our mess, but didn't. So, what did St. Nick bring? COALS. Yes, there were actual coals in front of our door. There are pictures of us standing outside our front door crying and howling (yes, my parents took pictures!). I think we never cleaned up faster in our young lives and a few hours later, St. Nicolas had realized that we were trying really hard to be better and came back and filled those boots. The End.

    I like Patti and Anonymous' ideas...why not simply delay a bit and have them earn their presents?

    Merry Christmas!

  15. Mine always get a little crazier around the holidays. I think its the excitement. They've been waiting for soooo long for Christmas to come. It doesn't help that the stores start advertising Christmas stuff in August!. That's a long time for little one's to wait for the big day. My guys who are typically pretty good have gotten a little bit crazier over the last few days. The same thing happened last year and I notice it at Easter too (though not as bad).

    Its definitely not food for us - just anxiety from the anticipation.

    Don't cancel Santa. They'll be fine in a day or two.

  16. We have it here too, but my kids have been at grandma's house during the day because I got the flu and couldn't watch them, so who knows if she gave them anything with red dye or even what kind of food they've been eating for a couple of days, argh. I agree with delaying presents too, maybe having them earn them back.

    Good luck, it's a hard holiday for sure.


  17. It's a hard time of year. Particularly for this age group. There are mad stories about a fat man flying around the world who knows what they are doing (I have stockings but no Santa here, I don't feel comfortable with lying to children but that's a different subject). Christmas has been everywhere for months and they have absorbed the idea that it is going to be an amazing day. There has been massive build up but at this age they can't really remember last year properly so they aren't sure what is going to happen. Adults have high expectations of happy children and wonderful traditions - carol singing and cooklie baking and photo taking etc. You have three the same age all competing for attention.

    My advice would be - cut the stocking down to 2/3 things they are going to enjoy and will keep them occupied when they wake up. Get outside for a couple of hours and run off some of that nervous energy (we're about to go to the park now, it's 10am Christmas day here) amd then give them 1 present each to unwrap. You can decide about the other presents later - there was lots of good advice in the comments.

    After Christmas you may need to have a think about how to re-establish rules and expectations.

    Good luck and have a lovely, low-key day.

  18. So my kids are completely the same and today I've been completely overwhelmed with the amount of things I needed to get done. Aside from my children being over-tired. I think this kind of stuff festers on busy mom days. I think the potato/coal thing is a brilliant idea if they will actually remember they were rotten.
    I'm so glad that the kids aren't hanging out at my un-kid-proofed in-laws house tomorrow. They certainly will be eating candy all day long. Merry Christmas!
    p.s. This HAS to be a phase. Its almost like they "get it" this year, but they are "getting" the wrong part of it.

  19. I agree with your mom. They are 5. Of course it is easy for she and I to see this because we had 5 year olds once upon a time. Let them be little and enjoy your Christmas no matter how crazy it is because tomorrow they will be all.grown.up! Merry Christmas and thank you for blogging!

  20. I'd agree it's just Christmas anxiety. My kids, and all the kids in my MOMS group, if Facebook is a reliable source, are just wells of naughtiness. :(

    For me, I'm keeping Christmas very low key. We don't talk about Santa, we didn't do a lot of prepartory stuff (except Advent stuff) and we didn't get a lot of presents.

    It's helped, it really really has.

    I also try very hard not to make threats I don't want to follow up on. So, I haven't even introduced the "good/naughty" component of the Santa story. :) Santa just is, but it isn't a big deal at our house, and you don't have to be worthy.

    :) Good luck - hopefully you find you Zen.

  21. lol! They are completely overwhelmed, as were our two hellions, er, I mean munchkins. Last year, we had a similar experience with Christmas Eve dinner so this year I opted to order pizza with a side of cookies and milk. Oh and spinach ('cause I'm that mom, not THAT mom). We then drove them around to look at lights on houses until they passed out. Then we came home and passed out. And a new tradition was born this day...

    Merry Christmas!

  22. Nice Santa letter...I just read it. Since I can't give advice on what to do, I'll tell you what my daughter said.

    She was being her usual grumpy self in the morning and her brother said to her, "Santa is watching you, you better hurry up and get in the car or you'll walk to school."

    Then he kept at it. "Hurry up, Santa is watching you be slow."

    "Hurry up, Santa is watching you whine."

    Then all Hell broke loose and she yelled at him in the meanest and ugliest voice I'd ever heard...


    So there.

  23. Hey Jen -

    Just posting to say I loved your moms response. Sounds like you worked it out - Happy Everything!


  24. I am all for discipline when it is called for and actions must have consequences either good or bad. The most responsible adults have a good understanding of consequences and you have 4 future adults under construction living with you.
    Sounds like they did have some immediate consequences when they went to bed early, no present to open, no reading that evening and angry parents. The note Santa left them was priceless and I'm sure they would believe he sent it if they believe in him. I think I would play on that for a little while since memory is short and impulse is strong in children. (look kid, you almost lost Christmas this year... do you really want to behave that way and maybe loose it entirely next year or get completely struck off Santa's list for the future?) But I think you may have to go to zero tolerance of bad behaviour for the foreseeable future until they get a grip on themselves.
    And to all you MEAN mommy's and daddies out there... discipline is not mean (as long as it's not cruelty) it is the process of turning out great human beings!

  25. Wow.

    I think perhaps taking away the excitement of Christmas Eve by telling them Santa wasn't coming for them after all this time was probably punishment enough.

    Snuggling up with my sister and anticipating Santa for the next morning is one of my fondest memories---even more so than the actual presents.

    Makes me kinda sad. Glad to see you changed your mind.