Kat was the same four-year-old little girl I used to watch while Bob, her dad, my friend and tenant in my four-bedroom house, took a shower or was talking to his girlfriend on the phone. One December day she was having a rough time and had a tantrum, throwing the crayons, scissors, and Xmas stuff on the floor in a fit of frustration. When I gave her my usual “Those who make the messes are the ones to clean it up” pitch, Kat flat refused. “No!” she yelled. “YOU pick it up!” I knew her unstable mom and could easily see where the irrational and childish behavior came from.
“No, you know the rules in my house and if you aren’t gonna obey the rules and pick up your mess I’m not going to play with you ANY MORE! GO!!” I said firmly.
“Okay”, she says, getting down from her chair and starting to stomp over to her bedroom door.” I didn’t want to play with you anymore anyway!” she responds.
Halfway to her door, I start talking loudly toward the ceiling. “Do you hear that Santa? Grumpy Girl. You don’t give presents to Grumpy Girls right?” She looks back at me over her shoulder.
Kat’s really ticked now. I’m “telling” on her.
Reaching her door she turns to me and makes an ugly face. “I don’t LIKE you anymore!? and slams the door with all her might, rattling the door frame some.
“Did you see THAT Santa?” I am again talking loudly toward the roof rafters from across the living room. “I bet you put Grumpy Girls who slam doors on your Naughty List and don’t give them ANY PRESENTS! I’m gonna call Santa and tell him RIGHT NOW!”
I close the door to my room.
Ten minutes later there’s a very gentle tapping on my door. A very chastened and downcast young lady stood there, eyes on the floor, wringing her hands. In a worried little girl voice she half-whines, “I’m sorry I made a mess and didn’t clean it up”, glancing up to see my reaction. Looking down again she continues. “I’m really sorry I slammed the door too, Prince Mel.”
(I was Prince Mel to her Arielle on better days.)
“Well…I don’t know…” rubbing my chin. “Maybe…”
Her face lights up with alarm. “You didn’t already call Santa did you?” searching my face for clues.
“Well…” I can’t help a grin spreading across my face when I realize what’s happening.
“If you did, call him back right away and tell him I apologized okay?” serious concern in her furrowed brow.
“I don’t know Kat, the mess is still all over the floor…” I remind her.
She rushes to pick the crayons, etc. up. “See? See? I’m picking it all up! Call him back now and tell him I picked it all up.” Its all I can do to not break out in laughter.
“I’ll see what I can do Kat…” The smile on my face makes her think I’m not taking her very important request seriously. “He’s very busy you know…”
“Promise? Cross your heart?!” she makes me pledge before heading back to her room.
“Cross my heart…” I struggle to look serious.
That was over ten years ago and I still remember that True Santa Believer like it was yesterday. My possible Easter Bunny Hotline worked just as well too.