...and this happened.
We waited over an hour at the mall. On a Monday. In the beginning of December. With hardly any line. This of course made me wonder out loud to my girlfriend how in the HECK anyone would brave a Santa line with a toddler closer to Christmas and - God forbid - on a weekend. Those of you who have or would are much nicer parents than myself because I don't think you could pay me to be near this fellow on a weekend (do you have any idea how difficult it is to keep an active toddler entertained in a line for even an hour, let alone three?!?) Good thing too, because Isla was clearly not impressed and, judging by the photo, the feeling was mutual. In fact, he immediately took a break after I picked Isla up off his lap. Like, immediately. It's got to be a little disheartening (not to mention exhausting) to be terrorizing babies and toddlers all day long. Thank God for the three and up crowd who actually like good ol' Saint Nick and don't scream bloody murder the moment they see his face up close.
Of course I thought this was totally hysterical and this is precisely the reaction I anticipated for two reasons: 1) 99% of photos I have seen of toddlers Isla's age (or thereabouts) with Santa show children reaching various shades of crimson displaying similar levels of terror and 2) Isla's aversion to men with facial hair.
So I was not a bit shocked when she went stiff as a board and began to scream the very instant I placed her on his lap. Classic. Snap, snap, snap. The poor, exhausted photographer desperately tried to distract her from her tears and wails with jingle bells and squeaky toys but Isla would have none of it. She was done.
For those of you who worry that our sweet girl has been scarred for life by the big man in red, fear not! She stopped screaming as quickly as she started and for the next two hours kept chirping excitedly, "saw Santa! Lap?" as if the whole thing was this awesome, happy encounter. When we got home and I showed her the picture with him, she pointed and smiled, "Santa! Lap?" and displayed zero distaste or malice. In fact, she looked pretty darn excited to see the big guy in print. Toddlers. They never know what they want. So, yeah, she's gonna be okay.
Speaking of photos...the above is a picture of a picture because I was not allowed one with my own camera. Apparently times are tough in the North Pole and they need extra revenue. A helper elf came up to us in line and asked, "Will you be buying a package or just visiting?" and, after seeing that the basic package (two 5 x 7 photos) was $20, I was all "no thanks". But, just to check I added, "we can take pictures with our own cameras though, right?" Negative. So, really, I paid $20 bucks to entertain my child in a line for an hour and get a picture of her screaming at the end of it. Good times.
It was worth it, though. The "screaming with Santa" photo is like a right of passage. So, to me, this picture is priceless.
Ho, ho, ho!