Santa Watching

Liam Charlie Santa
The Lamington and Happy Chin with Santa


I love this time of year.


This is the time of year I shamelessly exploit my children’s innocent beliefs in non-existent creatures for my own selfish ends.

We have the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy throughout the year, but Santa trumps them all for the power to ensure good behaviour.

Happy Chin raises his full mug of tea.

“No throw,” he says.

“Yes,” I say. “No throw. Santa’s watching.”

“Santa watching,” he intones reverently, and lowers his arm.

Brilliant! And so wrong. And also kind of creepy. Who is this red-suited fat guy who’s always watching? If he was hanging around outside the local school we’d all be calling Crime Stoppers.

I know in my heart it’s wrong, but I am stressed and overworked trying to pay for Christmas and have a million festive present and catering lists swirling round in my head. Frankly, I don’t need to be cleaning up spilled mugs of tea right this minute.

I’m also at a complete loss as to how (or even why) I should explain to Happy Chin about Santa. On the one hand, he is an adult now and deserves to be treated as such. On the other hand, he really loves Santa and Christmas and everything that goes with it, so why should I intervene? Why should I be the Christmas killjoy?

The lead up to Christmas is a period of high excitement for Happy Chin. He loves the decorations – in fact it’s only in the last two years that our decorations have stayed on the tree with any consistency. Everyone in the family loves decorating the tree. Not everyone loves doing it for 24 days, having first retrieved all the decorations from Happy Chin’s room. By December 25th we’ve all had enough and our tree usually resembles a kind of colourful Christmas vomit thrown on from one side, the tree teetering perilously towards collapse.

Happy Chin just loves tinsel and will even try to remove it from shopping centre Christmas trees. He also adores presents, but thinks every present is for him. This poses a slight problem at birthday parties. The shopping mall fake Christmas presents under the tree are often not safe from him. And it is for other families to place their wrapped presents under the tree in the days preceding Christmas. Good luck to them. I wish them well.

Our presents are pre-wrapped in utmost secrecy (in the man cave with the windows blacked out with curtains – it’s a bit like the Blitz without the air raid sirens or casualties) and then carefully hidden to be pulled out on Christmas Day. A member of the family (usually a grandparent) is then deputised as Present Guard to sit by the tree and keep Happy Chin at bay, their glass naturally assiduously topped up at regular intervals. There have to be some perks.

Advent Calendars are also a fun idea in principle, but require constant guarding. Happy Chin sees no reason to stop at one chocolate just because the number for today’s treat is 15, not 16, 17, 18 and 19. So some more creative hiding goes on. We tried the back of my car (they melted), the cupboard above the broom closet (mice got them), the cupboard under the sink (Happy Chin got them – all three of them). So this year I have conveniently forgotten to buy Advent Calendars. So far no one has noticed.

Christmas Eve reaches a complete crescendo of excitement, culminating in the traditional drive round to see the Christmas lights. A flask of hot chocolate is taken along in the vain hope of HC settling down for sleep some time before 1AM. The stocking are hung, Santa’s port and mince pies laid out, carrots and lettuce for the reindeer placed on the lawn, and then the long wait begins.

This year Happy Chin has asked Santa for Blue Headphones. That is all he wants. Blue Headphones. And they must be Loud. Green, red or yellow headphones would also be accepted apparently.

I do hope Santa is watching, and that HC gets his wish.

So a Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Happy Chin!


Big Mess


Dead silence for 3 seconds.

“Big Mess” says Happy Chin.

I sigh and go to fetch the mop.

‘Big Mess’ is Happy Chin’s expression for any spillage or droppage, large or small, that he is responsible for. These two words have the ability to bring us running from any end of the house, to find anything ranging from a few drops of hot chocolate to a large container of leftover spag bol on the floor.

His main daily calorie intake takes place overnight, when he helps himself to leftovers from the fridge. In the morning, his bed resembles the rug Pro Hart decorates in the paint ads, with me cast as the cleaning lady exclaiming “Oh Mr Hart!”

The dogs, having stationed themselves outside his room since daybreak waiting for the door to open, fall upon this bounty with great enthusiasm and unpredictable digestive results (more Big Mess for me to clean up later on).

About 3AM last Sunday night I heard a crash coming from Happy Chin’s room. Struggling blearily from the depths of unconsciousness, I stumbled in to find he’d knocked his indoor plant off the shelf. Dirt and pieces of broken pot were strewn all over the floor.

“Sh*t,” I said.

“Sh*t,” agreed Happy Chin.

Excellent, I thought as I went to fetch the broom, another milestone in language development.

The Lamington is also extremely good at spilling things, knocking things over, breaking things and losing things.

No Thing is safe with him around.

I resigned myself during Happy Chin’s toddler years to the fact that we’d never have a tidy house, so we’ve mostly been able to take the mess in our stride. Although it is a mystery how 2 litres of milk can just wind up on the floor.

Part of the problem is the volume and measurement skill usually picked up in early childhood has taken the Lamington and Happy Chin a little longer to learn. I like to think they’re not glass half full people, they’re glass overflowing people. Usually the glass contains some sticky liquid that manages to elude all attempts to clean up and we are still finding in the cutlery drawer a week later.

Another problem for the Lamington is that our cereal bowls clearly aren’t large enough. His bowl is always filled to the rim with milk, so it’s not surprising a percentage of it ends up on the floor on the journey between kitchen and dining table. If we were sensible, we’d just line the kitchen floor with newspaper and tell him to eat standing up at the bench, but we are trying to encourage good eating habits here.

The Lamington is very interested on how things work, so to be fair, a lot of damage occurs simply because he is investigating possibilities. He’s also very artistic and is completely absorbed when creating paintings, drawings or sculptures. He loves clay and wood, and keeps a whittling knife by his bed so he can carve sticks, an activity he seems to find relaxing.

For him, the idea to decorate his new laptop with paint pens was an extremely good one. For us, not so much. Especially when it was discovered he’d knocked over the jar of water he was using to rinse his brushes onto the keyboard. Said laptop is now being repaired. Creativity can be costly. I can only hope he doesn’t forget us when he’s a successful artist selling his work for thousands – we are definitely owed a cut of that money.

Although if wealth was measured in sticks, rocks and shells we would be rich beyond imagining. As it is impossible for the Lamington to go anywhere without acquiring a stick or two, several rocks and often a bit of random headwear too, we have a small cairn of various sized boulders, a decent collection of kindling for the winter and a garbage bag of clothes for the Salvos stationed permanently by the front door. If you have been walking by the Hobart foreshore recently and mislaid something, why not stop by Lost Property at our house? You’re sure to find it.

On one memorable occasion, he came home from school with a car tyre in tow.

“Where did you find that?” asked Mr August.

“Behind the service station,” came the Lamington’s delighted reply. “There was a whole pile of them just sitting there!”

Mr A sighed and went to fetch the car keys.