The building complex where I work had a "children's Christmas party" this past weekend, so I took you. I had to sign you up in advance so that when we went, there was a stocking with your name on it, and some snacks, and the expectation that Santa would ultimately arrive...bringing a present.
You had yourself convinced that Santa would give you Lego Chima, which is your current obsession. I had no idea of the budget or quality of the presents - there were a lot of kids there - so I wasn't totally squashing the idea, but I was trying to help you manage your expectations.
You sat patiently through the magician's act and even more patiently when Santa finally arrived. Like I said, there were a lot of kids. About half way through they called your name. Gleefully you went up and accepted your present, belatedly remembered to say thanks, explained that your mom had forgotten her camera so there was no need for a picture, and sat back down.
"Can I open it, Mom?" you asked eagerly.
"Sure," I answered. Cautiously.
You started to open it and it was pretty apparent that it wasn't the coveted Lego Chima. It was an action figure of some sort, an...okay present, maybe better suited for someone a little younger, but okay. Your face stilled. You looked up at me and I could see the utter disappointment in your eyes.
"That looks pretty cool," I tried.
"Maybe this isn't my present," you said.
"I'm pretty sure that's yours, buddy."
"No, mom. Let me see the label again. See, that's not an R at the end - that's a checkmark. This doesn't say Xander."
"Bud, that's an R. That's someone's...one of the elves' handwriting that makes it look like a checkmark, but it definitely says 'Xander'."
You frowned. I thought this was maybe a good opportunity to start, you know, leaving. Before there was a scene. I gently herded you towards where our coats were.
"Maybe there is another Xander," you suggested.
"No, buddy. Do you remember how they called two Lucases? And they had to say 'Lucas M' and 'Lucas A' to make the difference?"
"Well, they didn't call your last name, did they? They just said Xander. Because there is only one Xander here."
"I just think we should check with them, Mom. To make sure."
Your father often calls you a rules lawyer. You will cite precedent and argue something til you are blue in the face if you think there's a chance someone might budge on the rules. I realized that you were looking for a loophole here, some explanation for why the omniscient Santa hadn't brought the right present.
"Sweetie, I don't think so. That definitely says Xander, that is definitely your present."
"But maybe Santa got it wrong. All I've been talking about is Lego Chima!"
"Well, Santa has to listen to a lot of kids. He can't hear everything, you have to write him a letter and tell him exactly what you want, or the elves just have to guess. We can write a letter when you get home and I'm sure he'll bring you Lego Chima at Christmas."
At this point your lower lip started to quiver. I could practically see your faith in Christmas and Santa dissipating before my eyes. It was all I could do not to rush you off to WalMart and buy all the Lego Chimas I could get my hands on.
"Sweetie, I know you're disappointed - "
"I'm not disappointed, Mom, I just think we should check."
Big, fat tears were rolling down your face now. I knew you were crushed, and you were trying your damndest not to appear ungrateful. My heart broke for you, but I wasn't going to walk over and tell the 23-year-old admin assistants that they sucked at choosing gifts for 6 year old boys they had never met (because who IS good at that, really), and did they happen to have some very specific Lego hiding at the back of the pile?
"Sorry, bud. I'm absolutely positive that is your present. And I'm sure that if we write a letter to Santa, he'll have a better idea of what to bring on Christmas morning."
You wept softly all the way to the car, but you didn't throw the tantrum I was expecting. When we got in the car to drive home, you had chilled out a little.
"He has a toolbox that opens," you informed me, inspecting the gift you'd received.
"Oh, that's pretty cool," I said, in what I hoped was an enthusiastic-but-not-overly-so tone.
"And two pylons. Actually, he's got two of everything,"
When you got home you conferred with your father and decided the action figure was a construction person, and he would be able to drive some of your construction toys. And, woah - he had a gas can that fit in his hand.
I watched you continue to talk yourself into the gift you did receive, and take your own focus off the gift you didn't.
"I think I like this guy," you eventually proclaimed. Your father, who hadn't been at the christmas party and hadn't yet gotten the story, looked puzzled.
"Was there some question as to your relationship with this toy?" he wondered.
Oh, yes, there was. But you fixed it.
All on your own.