Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Con

So we know I have this kid. He is beautiful and bright and amazing. He is also very, very spoiled and has caused quite a bit of Drama this Christmas. (Capitalizations intentional!)
Let me just say, without faltering, that even when I had no job, when I was a full-time student, when we needed public assistance to buy groceries, I still managed to provide the child with everything he wanted.
My in-laws came in this past weekend because I have the work schedule from Hell and we were sure this was the only way they would be able to see him for Christmas. I had already had a conversation with Evan, explaining to him that people do not stop being sick just because it is Christmas time, and that Mommy has to work. In fact, Mommy does not have a day off of work until January 2nd. Together, we decided that it was acceptable for Santa to come late for Christmas so we could all enjoy the time together as a family. Secretly, I was delighted because this agreement meant that around the time I would have a day off of work to shop, there would be the enormous after-holiday sales. I had it all planned in my head: this obscene display of lavishness where John would get Evan out of the house so Santa could come. Evan would return to find this spread of everything he wanted. Everything! Keep this background information in your mind.

So this past weekend, they come into town. They are armed with cash to spend on Christmas gifts for Evan. We visit Toys'R'Us, where Evan is to pick out what he wants within his budget. Evan rattles off the list, and we start to fight the most insane crowd you could imagine in a toy store the weekend before Christmas. One of the items on his list, like every other kid in America, is a Wii. I had planned on buying one for him. But despite the crowd and the demand for the game system, they actually had them in. His grandma explained that if he chose the Wii, that would be it. Instead of getting a large quatity of cheaper presents, he would just get the one big one. He was fine with that. I was as well, thinking that it would be better for him to get it now while they had one in. I just planned on spending the same amount of money on accessories for it, which can be pricey.

John's sister comes up with the idea of taking Evan down with her for a visit this week. Yes, it is Christmas, but I will be working anyhow. We all agree that it is fine. It sucks that my son is not going to be here on Christmas, but neither will I. It is better for him to have some sort of celebration with family. We pack his stuff and when they make the return trip to Southern Kentucky, Evan goes along.

Now here we are. Evan is with them until Saturday. After a heated discussion with John's mother, it is revealed to me that I apparently spend no money on my son, that he is deprived. I cannot believe this is being said about the child who wears nothing but designer clothes. The child who has a room that looks like a toy store, whose mother works 60-70 hours per week to provide him with a private education because public school was not offering enough of a challenge. I am completely dumbfouded and have to step back from the situation for a minute to even think of a response to this. After a minute, I call his mom back and ask where she could possibly get an idea like that.

Where did she get it? From Evan. From my poor underpriviledged, malnourished, neglected little angel. You see, one day Evan had asked me if Santa could fit through the little fireplace at the new house. It didn't seem like too illogical of a question. The fireplace in the living room is small, and Santa is fat, right? My response?

"Well, Evan, Santa has magic on his side. Even when our house didn't have a chimney, Santa still found you, didn't he??? So Santa will find you."

Apparently this got twisted just a bit. My angel went and told John's family that he was told that Santa couldn't fit through our chimney, therfore no Santa this year. As a result, John's mother and father have gone and bought a whole new batch of presents for Evan to open down there on Christmas to make up for his alleged non-Christmas here at home.

Originally, I felt shocked and sad that my baby actually believed I was not going to get him anything for Christmas. But then I stopped and thought back through all of the conversations we have had about Christmas. I made it clear that Santa was going to come. I even made sure Evan understood why he would come late so as not to upset him. If he didn't understand, I would've found a way to celebrate on Christmas and not late. If this were some other child, I would feel like I had failed. This isn't any other child!

This is my gifted son. This is the child who knows exactly how to manipulate others to get what he wants. He has a memory like you would not believe and he knows what was said. This is not miscommunication or confusion. This was a lie. I know my son better than John's family, apparently. They got played. He knew what he was doing all along, and it worked. They got upset and felt badly. Despite the fact that he already got wonderful presents from them this past weekend, they went back and bought him more out of sadness for the poor little boy without Christmas gifts.

I do not know whether to be mad at my son for the conniving way he played them, or angry at my in-laws for not seeing through it. I think it should be a combination. One look at Evan shows anyone he is not deprived. They have seen his bedroom. They have seen the clothes I buy for him. They know he is in private school.

I have not decided what I am going to do about this. I am tempted to not buy him anything for Christmas. I don't know if that is a good enough lesson. I think he needs to learn about true deprivation. I cannot decide if this should mean that he will need to personally box up all of the extra Christmas gifts and physically hand them over to charity, or if I am going to take him to a soup kitchen and make him do some age-appropriate task for them so he can see what it is like. That while he is throwing around these statements and ideas, there are others without food or shelter. There are children living on the streets, with no warm clothes or hot meals. Heaven forbid the Wii was his only Christmas gift fro his grandparents.

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