Updated: Mar 13
The holidays were quite busy, so this post is obviously a little late for Christmas. However, I felt a little obligated to tell a quick tale of the boys and their visit to Santa Clause this year. It began with a stopover from my parents and grandmother. They were leaving for California to visit my sister and her family, so they wanted to come by before they left and do a mini Christmas celebration, capping it off with a trip to see Santa and a lights show.
To preface the ages of my two sons for new readers, the youngest boy had just turned four last month and the eldest is nearly five. Therefore, I currently have two four-year-olds. Sounds fun right? So, convincing two four year olds to leave their newest collection of Christmas booty from Nana, Papa, and GiGi was going to be a sticky endeavor. But if anyone was up to the task, it was the Big Man in red. They each were allowed to take a little something from the earlier festivities on the ride up north. Not quite the North Pole, but the Mall of New Hampshire located in Manchester. Close enough, right? The oldest took his new Nintendo Switch game, the younger - two trains, of course. But before all else, we needed to eat!
The boys behaved remarkably well at dinner and even ate most of their food while my father and I talked football and...well, I'm going to be honest - I have no idea what anyone else was talking about. Color me a stereotype, I suppose. Finally, the time had come for the kids to tell the Big Man what they wanted for Christmas. We walked through the Mall, getting turned around once, and needing to ask for directions. Embarrassing, I know. Then we saw the line wrapped around the roped off area where Santa was greeting eager children with ho ho ho's and candy canes. It was such a long wait. My wife wanted to leave. So did I. But the kids said they wanted to wait for Santa. So we did. And did we wait.
Whilst we tarried, biding time for the Fat Man to become available, the youngest needed to use the bathroom. I had no idea where the bathrooms were in this mall, but I figured the JC Pennies was my best bet.
"Daddy, hold my trains," he said, stuffing my pockets with the two newest acquisitions. I went in to Pennies and asked the first person I could find where the restrooms were as the boy squiggled and squirmed around my legs. Upstairs, take a left, then a right, behind the mens checkout counter. That was pretty far for a four year old's bladder. It was going to be close. I rushed the child through the aisles ducking and weaving obstacles while he placed one hand in mine, and the other over his privates. After nearly missing the sign, my eyes located the target and away we bolted. We walked into the public bathroom and I led him to the urinal, which smelled stale and rancid, as public urinals are wont to do.
"Nope," the boy said definitively as he turned to walk out of the bathroom. I grabbed his arm and gently tugged him back into place. I had to manually pull down his pants and hold him over the urinal until he went. He did. I took a deep breath of relief- instantly regretting that I didn't leave the restroom before deciding to do so. We walked back through the maze to find our place in line...it hadn't moved.
I deposited the trains back into the younger boys hands when I felt a tug on my leg. The older boy now wanted to use the potty. So, back I went through the labyrinth of clothes racks, escalators, and check out counters, until we reached our destination. The boy made an audible gagging noise as we entered the facility. "I know, bud," I said to him, sympathizing. He walked to the urinal and pulled down his own pants, then attempted to go. Nothing. Nada. Not a drop. I gave a heavy sigh after several minutes of him trying. I was annoyed and could no longer stand listening to the man in the adjacent stall doing his business. I had him pull up his pants and we retreated back to our line...we moved two spots. Ten minutes went by.
"Daddy, hold my trains." The youngest. "I need to go potty."
"Again!?" I fulminated. I grabbed the boy's hand and marched him back to the bathroom through the jungle I was now very familiar with.
"You couldn't have gotten it all out the first time?" I asked, impatiently as we jogged through the aisles.
"Sorry, Daddy." His apologies are possible the sweetest things you've ever heard. He may know it too, because we can never stay mad when he does. We get back to the even worse smelling bathroom and I again have to force the boy to the urinal. He's shorter than the oldest, so I had to hold him up a bit for him to reach. Nothing, Nada. Not. A. Drop. My back ached. My head pounded.
"Are you serious!?" I grunt, trying not to be loud.
"I don't have to go potty, I go see Santa."
"Fine." I don't say a word as we work our way back to the line...two more spots. I deposit the faker and his trains to his mother and exit the line without saying much. I take a seat next to my Dad on the nearby bench. My older son immediately seeks me out and jumps on my lap.
"I wanna wait with Daddy," he says sweetly. These boys refuse to let me stay angry. It's almost annoying. At long last, the time had come. Neither boy cried or tried to run away. It was our first year where we didn't have to sit in to keep them from slithering away from the Red Man's grasp. They took some great pictures, but completely froze when Santa asked what they wanted for Christmas. After some coercing, the oldest shyly whispered that he wanted an egg. The poor old man had no clue the boy meant those stupid "Ryan surprise eggs" that are all the YouTube rage these days. I chuckled to myself and led the boys away as they were filled with awe of the spectacle that was Santa Clause.
The rest of the night was a bit more disappointing. GPS took us the wrong direction to the the light show. The aforementioned light show wasn't going to start for another hour once we actually got there. And I waited in the longest Dunkin' Donuts line I had ever seen. We certainly weren't going to wait an hour for that light show with tired four-year-olds in tow, so we trucked on back home. The boys passing out in their car seats. Once we got home, we said our good byes to my folks and grandma. Then my wife and I were able to quickly deposit the groggy kids into bed after a quick pajama change and teeth brushing. At last, there was the mess to contend with. My parents spoiled those boys rotten, and the living room had paid the price. As we looked over the havoc, we smiled to each other remembering the excitement that caused the thrashing of our living room floor and chairs. Totally worth it.