An Updated Gift of the Magi?

It’s the holiday season and you know what that means?  Adam and I are co-parenting with the big man: Santa Claus.

Even though we are Jewish, for the past 8 years, we have insisted that Santa visits all of G-d’s children regardless of their religion.  For most of her life, Santa has surprised Kayla with a wonderful gift in return for her leaving him delicious homemade cookies.  However the ol’guy does have his limits and we thought that $80 for a battery powered stuffed dog was well above it.

A few years ago, Kayla decided that we needed a dog.  I was working full time and Adam was away for business at least 2 weeks out of each month.  In short, we did not have the time nor the patience to add another member to the already growing zoo.  So Biscuit, a battery powered realistic looking toy, became the dog of Kayla’s dreams: just large enough for her to hug, obey her commands to sit and lay down, came with a bone, and could whine and bark on command. Even better? She (and we) would not have to feed or take him outside.  He wouldn’t shed nor would he chase the cat around the house.

Biscuit: The Perfect Dog

Bottom line: Adam and I had every intention of getting the toy for Kayla and decided that despite our protests to the contrary, Santa would be the perfect person to deliver it.  We convinced Kayla that Biscuit was just too pricey and that she would need to select a less expensive toy.  She decided that she would buy the pup herself and came back to us with proposal to perform chores and run errands in exchange for payment.  When we told her that scooping the cat litter and sweeping the floor once or twice would only merit $5, Kayla asked us to take her to the bank so she could withdraw money from her savings account.  We refused to take her and that’s when Kayla decided that there had to be another way to get Biscuit.

Kayla has always watched more than her share of television.  We didn’t consider networks like Sprout or Nickelodeon would influence Kayla’s actions.  Actually the programs themselves had nothing to do with her idea; it was the commercials.  And Adam and I never really paid attention to the commercials.  Until one cold December morning when I emerged from the shower to find my six year old on my bed surrounded by jewelry: my jewelry.

Kayla had divided the trinkets into three piles: Gold, Silver and Not sure. While still dripping wet and in a towel, I asked her what EXACTLY she was doing with my things?  Her response?  “The nice man on television told me that if I sent him jewelry, he would give me money.  Then I can buy Biscuit!”  My mouth hung open.  I was not sure what to say. I exclaimed “You’re going to do WHAT? I don’t think so.  Those are my things!”  Okay, maybe that was not the best parental response but it was all that I could think of at the time. I then quietly (and slowly) explained to Kayla that that was Mommy’s jewelry and it was not for sale.  I praised her for her ingenuity (she was 6 after all) but told her that there had to be another way to get Biscuit.  I recommended that she do a better job of listening to her parents when we told her to go to bed. Maybe Santa would surprise her.

Our daughter cried and cried at the unfairness of the situation.  She was out of ideas.  When she wasn’t begging us or quoting Shel Silverstein poems about little girls who died when their parents did not buy them ponies, Kayla sulked in her room convinced that she would forever be dog-less.

Imagine her surprise on Christmas morning when she opened a gigantic box and found Biscuit ready and waiting to be played with.  (We put the batteries in the ol’boy the night before so Kayla would not have to wait to play with her new acquisition.)  She thanked Santa over and over for hearing her prayers and bringing her the toy she coveted the most.  The note from Santa admonished Kayla for planning to sell her mother’s jewelry and recommended that she focus on being more obedient and less crafty. (Well, you can’t say that we didn’t try, right?)

Fast forward two years, and Biscuit stands guard in Kayla’s room waiting to be played with.  He was pretty much forgotten when we acquired the German Shepherd a year ago who is much more interesting as well as a lot more work. Earlier this month, Kayla told informed me that there were other children who might appreciate Biscuit more that she did.  It was time, according to K, for Biscuit to be moving on to another home.  She asked me to make the appropriate arrangements.  When I asked her what she was planning on doing with the soon to be empty space in her bedroom, Kayla assured me that Santa would provide. Yikes.

As for me, I can’t help wondering what Kayla will think of next to generate some cash and will it involve doing something with my possessions? For now, I am keeping a close eye on my wallet.  She recently figured out how the ATM machine and credit cards work.