Everett entered the Why phase several months ago.

“Am I going to school today? Why?”

“Why are the trees green?”

“Why am I special?”

All good questions, but a bit exhausting at times, and it is surprisingly easy to wander into an unsettling existential discussion with a three year old. Now he has entered the How phase – he has started asking how things work and how they happen. A few days ago we started reading The Night Before Christmas to him at bedtime.

“How does Santa get up the chimney?”

This was followed by a 20 minute discussion with Melissa about Santa’s transportation methods. Everett seemed skeptical but eventually concluded that he wasn’t going to get any better explanation than was in the book, at least until yesterday when Melissa took him to meet Santa.

“Everett, do you want to wear your Christmas vest or your walrus sweater today?”

“I am going to wear my duck costume. Santa will be so excited to see a duck! Does Santa quack?”

In past years Everett has been extremely apprehensive about sitting on Santa’s lap. This year was quite different:

He jumped up, told Santa that he wanted a recycling truck or a cement mixer, and then proceeded to ask about the chimney transportation problem. Santa replied “With a touch of my nose and a nod of my head…”, to which Everett responded with a mixture of awe and wonder.

Christmas has had unintended benefits for Chris and Melissa. In the past we have written about how limited our authority feels at times, and about the need for other figures in Everett’s life who can help shape his behavior. In an act of flagrant parental manipulation we have started telling him that if he doesn’t behave he might be moved from Santa’s Nice list to his Naughty list. Upon hearing this Everett gets wide eyed and is much more cooperative. Not sure what we are going to do after Christmas…


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