Do you know that classic Christmas Carol that begins:
"You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout I'm telling you why?"
I can't sing it, because it makes my children cry.
I don't mean they complain about my singing, say they don't like it, or whine. I mean real tears roll down their sweet little faces and their wide open mouths have drool strings connecting top lip to bottom. There is yowling. Louts and lots of loud yowling.
The idea that Santa is watching their every move and keeping tabs on them, writing their behavior down on some list is too much too bear. They know they have been naughty. They know they provoke their brother and whine at bedtime and sneak extra candy. They know their only hope is that Santa isn't really watching every minute.
We have spoken and I do reassure them that they are perfectly well behaved most of the time and they are loved and will get presents. And, conversely, I have threatened to call Santa, generally at bedtime. (Hey, Daddy started threatening before Halloween, I use Santa only as a last resort in December.)
This is why we have no Elf on the Shelf - if Santa sent a live-in spy every year, my boys would need therapy, and lots of it.
And yes, they love Santa. They look forward to visiting Santa, and I occasionally promise to keep somethings between us and not tell Santa on them, much like mothers promised to keep secrets from daddies in the days of old.
While part of me wants to be a good person and tell them that Santa will bring them toys no matter what, that love is unconditional, I also appreciate the solid threat that it is. Sometimes the Santa threat is the only thing that gets them to stop fighting and go to bed, and I need them to go to bed, sometimes very desperately. Santa is my coconspirator and behavior enforcer.
Still, I feel bad when they cry when they hear, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I feel like I have somehow gone astray in my parenting. Yet, I also love to torture those little critters and sing it to them. (But only when they are being really bratty.) Does that make me an evil parent? Maybe, but in just a year or two I won't be able to play the Santa card anymore, and the song will no longer upset them. I might as well enjoy the Santa Mystique while it lasts.