One sunny afternoon I was sitting at our kitchen table going over my homework, occasionally looking out the window to keep an eye on the girls playing in the backyard. At the back of the house the previous owners had built a sort of indoor patio area leading out to the backyard that we used as a playroom. The property was 50 feet by 150 feet, so the backyard was quite deep. In fact, we stopped mowing about half way back and the grass and weeds had pretty much taken over the area past the swing set. All of a sudden I realized I couldn’t see Danielle. Since she was about 2 at the time and I was used to her ‘disappearing’ into the grassy/jungle area. Just as I was about to go out to find her, something caught my eye at the top of the trellis. Birds? Squirrel? No, it was two little shoes. I raced outside just in time to see Danielle crawl up onto the roof of the backroom. There was Angela standing at the bottom of the trellis, looking up at her sister, and saying “Boy, Dani sure can climb!”
When Scott was about six or seven he asked the one question every parent dreads. No, not "Where do babies come from?" (we had already jumped that hurdle), but "Mom, is there really a Santa Claus?" The older neighborhood children had been teasing the younger kids just before Christmas. How was I going to break the news to my darling son? I mustered up all my creative juices and asked him to sit down with me so I could tell him the story of Santa Claus. "A very long time ago in a poor village far away from here lived an old man who loved children, although he didn't have any of his own. This man felt so bad for the poor children at Christmas time that he wanted to leave presents for them at their door. But how could he tell how many children leaved at each house? So he asked the parents to put their children's shoes on the doormat before going to bed on Christmas eve. The parents must have thought this was a strange request, but did as the old man asked. Lo and behold, Christmas morning there was a present for each of the children in the shoes. Naturally, the presents were mostly things the old man had made himself, and certainly not of much value, but the children were so excited to receive something, they didn't care. This went on year after year and became a tradition, continuing on to the next generation.
Then a terrible thing happened. The old man died. At his death, the village elders wanted to give the old man a special honor, and since his name was Nikolas, they decided to refer to him as Saint Nikolas from that day on. This was all well and good, but when Christmas rolled around the parents wondered what they should do. After much deliberation, they decided to keep the spirit of Saint Nikolas alive by leaving presents for the children in the shoes and signing "From Saint Nikolas" on little pieces of paper. The villages all around them thought that was a great idea and did the same thing, until the tradition spread to the whole world. Some children put out their shoes and some hung their stockings by their fireplaces. Even today, parents and other adults leave presents for the children from Saint Nikolas. In some countries he is still known as Saint Nikolas and in some he is called Santa Claus."
Scott, having been practically speechless during the story looked up and, in a rather stern voice, said "Let me get this straight. All this time you and dad have been giving me presents and pretending they were from Santa Claus?" "Yes", I said. "Well, if I had known that I would have said thank you!"
Skip forward a few months. Right before Easter we were decorating eggs. I don't exactly remember how it came up, but I think one of his sisters was talking about good places to hide the eggs and Scott walked into the room, just in time to hear the last of the conversation. In response to his questioning look I said, "Scott, you remember the story I told you about Santa Claus?" and he replied "Oh no! Not the Easter bunny too!"
I was pretty tired of the kids begging for things when we went to the store, and had told them that they could think of one thing that they wanted and when we reached the checkout I would ask each one what it was they had in mind and then ok their choice. They would then run to the cherised item, grab it, and rush back to the checkout in time for it to be included in the family groceries. They knew not to choose candy, gum, etc., This worked out just fine.
Scott was about three years old when he and I had run an errand to the TG&Y. We had been there several times and I reminded him of our "rule" before entering the store. While we were waiting our turn in line, I asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted a quarter for the "huggy machine". The clerk gave me a puzzled look and I shrugged my shoulders as I handed him a quarter. He bounced over to the gumball machine, inserted the quarter, popped the gumball into his mouth, bounced back to me and gave me a bear hug!