There was a line in the middle of the day on a Friday afternoon, and as you approach the Santa "village" you have to stand up on your tippy toes to catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf. Well, I had to stand on my tippy toes since I am 5'2". But the kids could barely see anything at their height. Which just whips them into a frenzy to just SEE him. When we found the end of the line, it seemed to snake on forever into a labyrinth-like maze. A chirpy blond elf offered us a ticket to come back and stand in line in a half an hour. Brian and I glanced at each other confused, and looked at her to explain. She said something like, "Well, if you wait in line now without a ticket, it could be a while. But if you come back in half an hour, then you're guaranteed to see Santa within a half hour." It was some sort of Elfin logic and we didn't understand so of course we took our ticket and stalked off to the play area set up for the "waiting" children.
At which point Rowan starts wailing, "But I want to SEE SANTAAAAA!" If the Elfin logic didn't make sense to me, there's just no way to explain it to a 2 year old. So we quickly tried to divert her attention to Look! A carousel! Look! A train with a remote! Look! A glittery slide that says it's made of ice! No, not real ice, you won't get cold. Really, it was just a plastic slide, but kind of large, and with an elf at the top to help slide the kiddos down, it was reminiscent of that scene in 'A Christmas Story' when Santa pushes Ralphie down the slide.
All the while, the build up to see Santa is even more fun when you start hearing the desperate wails of small children being forced to sit on Santa's lap. And every time a wailing cry would rise up into the rafters, Rowan's eyes would get wiiiide, and she'd ask, "Why they crying?" Oh boy. Do you lie? Do you tell her the truth about the great Christmas tradition of forcing your small child to sit in a hairy, old, obese man's lap and talk to him? I did what any respectable parent would do and answered her with an "I don't know!" And as teary eyed children would come streaming past, their mouths crammed with a conciliatory candy cane, Rowan's suspicions grew. Fletcher, a true believer in everyone's goodness, including Santa's, remained excited to just SEE him!!
At last our wait was over, and we took our tickets on over to... wait in line. It still didn't make sense to us, but we shrugged our shoulders and stood in line. The littles got antsy straight away, and I took them to play more while Brian waited in line. The kiddos and I got back just in time to be next in line. I could tell that Rowan was hesitant, so Brian was on detail to stay close while I tried to snap a few pictures. Both of the littles walked very verrrrry slowly up to the big man. To his credit, Santa was very friendly looking, and reached his arms right out to them. Fletcher and Rowan slowly stepped forward, and there was a moment where I held my breath, expecting Rowan to turn tail and run. Fletcher had his little fists clenched so tightly, I half expected him to rocket off into space. Rowan surprised us all by happily climbing up into Santa's lap and setting to the task of asking for presents.
Rowan pretty much hijacked the whole Santa conversation, it seems. I think Fletcher finally got a little word in about a new train amidst Rowan's explanations of what kind of dolly she wanted.
Both littles left happy and smiling, sucking on their candy canes and bouncing away from Santa's village. Success!