I saw it happening in slow-motion but I couldn’t stop it. He was out of his booster seat and catapulting over the back seat of the van. I grabbed for his ankle and missed. There was a squeal. It was too late.
It was my fault, of course, to have left Christmas toys — not even in a bag — in the trunk area of our minivan. But the kids never look back there! It’s usually just a jumble of napkins and fruit snack wrappers and strollers I refuse to sell — even though our youngest is three and a half — because they’re handy for loading up with shopping bags and coats when we walk through the mall.
I’d taken advantage of a Black Friday deal and stashed the gift — a remote-control car — in the back of the van until I could smuggle it into the house. I never expected I’d toss a couple of balloon swords in the back after leaving a birthday party, and that our five-year-old would dive for the balloons as soon as the van had come to a full and complete stop.
The whole ordeal was so fast that hot tears were rushing down his cheeks about 15 seconds after he spotted the toy. I almost — almost — gave it to him because I felt so guilty. But it wasn’t even mine to give (I’d bought it for my sister to give him) so I held strong. No, it’s a Christmas gift. I’m sorry you saw it. You will open it on Christmas morning and you will love it so much. I promise.
He ran inside crying over the injustice that was his five-year-old life, and I hastily threw a blanket over the toy (and the other toy with it that was for his sister).
I felt badly that he’d discovered a gift by mistake because I hated when that happened to me as a kid. I’d see an unwrapped gift in my mom’s closet and be mad at myself for even going in there. I wanted to know, but I didn’t! I wanted to be surprised, but I also liked knowing what I getting. It was … confusing.
Both of our kids have been eagerly peeking into our master closet (a.k.a. Gift Central) in the hopes of spotting their Christmas gifts. They’ve also been begging me to put the gifts under the tree right now (ha!) and pleading for permission to wrap each other’s gifts — um, I wasn’t born yesterday, you adorable little blabbermouths.
But my neighbour says her daughter, who is almost five, won’t go near the basement these days because that’s where her gifts are being stored. She wants to be surprised and she doesn’t want to risk spotting something. How mature, I thought while moving my own shopping bags up to the highest shelf (kids + step-stools).
I think some kids are natural snoopers and others really, truly don’t want their surprises to be ruined. Mine are the former, unfortunately, but I can’t blame them. Christmas is exciting and they have practically zero concept of time.