The Nice List

Dec 23 2009

In the spirit of Christmas goodness, I thought I ought to update you all on my two children who found their way to the Naughty List with only a week to spare before Christmas Day.

Well, I did receive quite a few comments, both in person and electronically about the last blog post.

First, I should clear the name of the kids’ music teacher at church.  In her defense, I think she took the only action that was reasonable under the circumstances, and I whole-heartedly support her decision to remove the kids from the Christmas program.  This was a GREAT learning experience for them.  And… dare I say it?… I doubt that this will ever happen again.

Second, I heard clearly from a number of you that I failed to appropriately leverage Santa and the Naughty List in the scenario with my kids.

Never one to shy away from constructive criticism (ha! that was a total lie, as I pretty much hate any kind of criticism… but let’s go with it…), I took your advice to heart.

I sat down with my two naughty list kids the day after the Incident, and I told them that I’d had a chat with Santa.

They know that I talk to Santa every Fall to work out how we’ll be handling gifts and stockings, including which part my husband and I will do and which part Santa’s responsible to handle.  This helps explain why Santa brings presents to other kids but only fills stockings at my house; I explain that we’ve agreed that we, the parents, can do presents, but we’d love Santa’s help with stockings in exchange for leaving milk, cookies, apples and carrots as “fuel” for Santa’s Christmas service.  Each parent works out their own family’s system with Santa, thus the apparent “Santa Inequities” are resolved.  My kids buy this, although I’m not sure why.

Despite my annual Fall call to Santa (using the secret phone number all parents are issued upon the birth – or, in our case, adoption – of their first child), calling Santa the week before Christmas, his very busiest time of the year, is unusual and significant.  I impressed this on my kids before I told them about the conversation.

Here’s how it went:

I had a chat with Santa about your behavior at Christmas program practice.

There’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The bad news is, Santa was very sad to have to place you on the Naughty List.  Since Christmas is next week, I’m sure you’re aware that this isn’t good timing for being on the Naughty List.

The good news is, Santa is willing to work with us on a Remedial Reinstatement to the Nice List Program. That means you have one more chance to get back on the Nice List.

The program will be pretty straight forward.

There are 7 days left until Christmas Eve.

You will have an opportunity each day for 7 days to display Nice List behavior.

If you are able to exhibit Nice List behavior for ALL 7 days, then Santa is willing to put you back on the Nice List just in time for Christmas to come.

I will need to make daily calls to Santa to report on your behavior.

Does that sound fair to you?

Sure enough, it did.  Both kids were fairly wide-eyed at this point, but they were eager to work on their Nice List behavior.

I’m happy to report that, throughout the last week, behavior modification has worked pretty well!  We’re able to make minor course corrections throughout the day with a gentle reminder.

Nice List?  Or Naughty List?  You choose.

And, pretty swiftly, behavior drifts back into the Nice currents.

It’s amazing what proper motivation coupled with a dash of Santa-threat can do!

If all goes well, you’ll be relieved to know that Santa will be stopping at my house tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.