Two weeks before Christmas, Katie had her first encounter with Santa when Santa came for breakfast at our neighborhood clubhouse. I didn't take her to any of the mall Santa's when she was a baby. We never did that when I was a kid and I never liked the idea of standing in line for two hours for an expensive picture that might not be good. This was probably a good thing because Katie is really and truly terrified of anyone who doesn't look like a normal person.
This should be reassuring, perhaps she won't go with strangers? No, she hasn't met a stranger she didn't like in at least 3 years. She would happily run off with any old pedophile or murderer, especially if they give her candy, specifically chocolate. A person dressed in a costume? A person sized monkey? Her favorite Sesame Street characters live and in person? Run for the hills!!!
We really talked up Santa and meeting Santa and that she would be able to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas when she saw him. She had been talking about Santa at daycare and learning many good Christmas tunes (Rudolph, Dreidel Dreidel, Jingle Bells, and Frosty) for her preschool Christmas program so she had lots of preparation for the event. She remained excited until the moment we stepped into the building with Santa and she saw him through a window about 30 feet away.
Terror struck, she buried her head in our shoulders and refused to go any further. She would only go get some breakfast (in the same large room with Santa) by staying on the far side of me so I would block her from Santa's view. The we had to go eat breakfast in a conference room next to the room where Santa was because she couldn't be that near to him.
We tried everything. I tried walking in the room with her and talking to her, assuring her that Santa was safe. Hysterics. Didn't she want to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas? She wouldn't go within 20 feet of him without crying hysterically and burying her head in our shoulders. I tried talking to her about her friends going to see Santa (after we encountered a family from our church with their two girls). One of the girls even offered to go see Santa with her. Nothing doing...but then she said, "Okay!" and went with the girl...to about 15 feet from Santa. Hysterics again. But, we got close enough to sit on the couch in the same room with Santa, and remain 15 feet away. Didn't she want a candy cane? Well...maybe. Candy is a big motivator for my little sweet tooth. We stayed there for a little while and she watched some other kids get closer and sit on his lap. Finally, after much trial and testing and pulling back, she allowed me to carry her up to Santa and kneel beside him. She spoke to him from the security of my arms, told him she wanted a dollhouse for Christmas, and received her prized candy cane.
Despite Katie's fear of him. Santa decided to get her that dollhouse she wanted and it has been one of the best gifts. She will sit and play with it for quite awhile without adult intervention.
Thank you Santa.
Terrified Katie clinging to Mommy for dear life.
Brave Katie finally venturing over to see the big man in the red suit, from the safety of Mommy's arms of course.
Our first Christmas picture "with" Santa.
Katie has informed us (after a week or two distance from the trauma) that she is going to be brave and sit with Santa "next week." We'll see!