The XX Factor

Can Santa Claus Make a Nintendo?

Yesterday, I oh-so-casually asked my 3-year-old what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. “A [ Nintendo] DS ,” he chirped without hesitation. “I already thought it! Like Sam’s. That’s what he’s going to bring me.” Actually, that’s not what Santa had planned at all.

Santa just read Rafe Esquith’s Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up, Shook-Up World -a book that definitively does not endorse hand-held gaming systems for 3-year-olds. Santa also just got an e-mail from a friend casually referring to her kids’ “weekly hour” of TV time, which Santa had to respond to during the third hour of a weekend Scooby-Doo marathon. All of this has made Santa feel a little like, well, a bad Santa-and certainly not like a Santa inclined to present even the best 3-year-old in the world, one who probably wouldn’t abuse it, would take care of it, readily accepts limits on playing time and is something of a video-game savant, with a DS of his own.

Santa was thinking of something more like, say, a toy truck. I offered a hesitant comment to that effect. “I don’t think Santa can make a DS, though, do you?”

“Of course he can! He just needs some wood, and some colors. He can do it!”

Clearly some form of shop class would be more appropriate than a video game. The point is, he’s convinced, and although Mom has never had any trouble saying no, Santa is struggling. Most of Santa is outraged. No 3-year-old needs even a used, eBay version of a $100 video game. But a small part of Santa-who has not yet done the shopping-is tempted, for various reasons.

What do you do, when your kid asks Santa for something that you can’t, won’t, or didn’t buy? In past years, I’ve run out at the last minute for a “bucketful of markers,” but that’s been the limit of our Santa drama thus far. I’m actually pretty sure that Santa (who’s always brought things like marble games and wooden trains and a toy kitchen for everyone to share) won’t actually bring a DS for Wyatt, and he’ll just have to deal. But a little extra element of possible disappointment has been introduced into the usual expectation of Christmas morning magic, and I’m grieving the years when it was the easiest thing in the world to grant everyone’s wish.