Santa with the Dark Cheeks

9:58 am |

As I mentioned in a previous post, fussy babies often make for amazing children. Don’t take my word for it. If you look at the literature out there, you’ll see that you’re in for a real treat. But don’t go supposing amazing means easy.spirited child with dog

Forgive me for saying, but I liken a spirited child to a smart dog.

Yes that Border Colly will delight you alright with his amazing intelligence, but unlike the dummer breeds, he’s going to drive you absolutely mad with his intense energy and need for stimulation.

I know, because we have a Portuguese Water Dog. We should have bought a Bulldog.

But I digress.

One of the amazing personality traights of a formerly fussy baby (i.e. spirited child) is their acute awareness and perceptiveness. At three, Chloe is so perceptive that we have to be very careful what we say around her. She knows when what we say doesn’t jive with what she knows, so we can’t lie to her.

She’s acutely aware of when anyone says anything critical about her. And she understands what seem to us to be relatively complex concepts – like life and death.

One day, for example, I decided that it would be a good idea to be honest with her about where some of her relatives have gone. She asked, so I said:

They died honey. We all live and we all die at some point. We don’t live forever.”

She broke down in tears and said,

But that means I’m going to die too. I don’t want to die.

In one move I had just gotten my 3 year old child thinking about her own mortality. Way to cut short her innocence Dad! I had no idea she would make the connection to her own life that easily. Kids aren’t supposed to be concerned about dying, right?

But connections are what perceptive children are all about. It’s not the noticing that matters – although that helps. It’s making the connections to everything else they know that makes them perceptive. Which leads me to yesterday.

Chloe was at her skating lessons with Mommy and, it being close to Christmas, Santa made a surprise appearance. Except, this wasn’t the Santa she was used to seeing. He had, as Chloe put it “dark cheeks.”

Santa ClausMommy,” she said, “Why does Santa have dark cheeks?”

She was the only one staring at Santa, giving him an uncomfortable look. The other children didn’t seem to pay any attention.

Julie, caught off guard and not knowing what to say, just said she wasn’t sure and quickly distracted her.

I didn’t know any of this little story when I put Chloe to bed that night. I asked her about her skating lessons, and she told me that Santa had come to visit, but that he had had dark cheeks.

Really?” I said. “Well that’s nice.”

“But Daddy,” Chloe said, “it couldn’t have been Santa if he had dark cheeks. I’ve already met Santa and he didn’t have dark cheeks….”

Then there was a pause (where I didn’t have a clue what to say) and Chloe went on,

There must be more than one Santa. There must be lots of Santas.

My cue: “Chloe, I think it’s just that sometimes Santa has helpers because he can’t do it all by himself. This must have been one of his helpers.”

Oh,” said Chloe, looking only semi convinced.

Meanwhile I’m thinking, great, I just made Santa’s helper the visible minority – how white of me!

Julie and I have resigned ourselves to accepting that when it comes to Santa and Christmas, Chloe’s not going to be one of those kids who still believes at 10 years old. I think we’ll be lucky if she makes it to 5. She’s just too quick at adding 2 and 2 together. She likes to know how everything fits so her world makes sense.

And as colour blind as we all pretend to be, let’s face it, we’d know if our biggest hero just up and changed colour one day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you have your own stories about your child’s spirited personality I’d love to hear them, and so would others on the blog, I’m sure. As parents of fussy babies, we could all use to hear a few anecdotes from time to time.


Sean Sutton

Sean Sutton lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and two children, Chloe and Emily. He spent much of this year on paternity leave following Emily’s birth and started a blog to document his experience.

Photo Credits: Luigi Diamante | Ashley Cox

Category: Stories

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  1. Carol Mills says:

    My spirited daughter.
    Granted my daughter is only 4 months old…. anyone can already tell she is very spirited. She had HORRIBLE colic, and I mean dreadful for the first 3 months of her life, and is still getting over it, though it is not so intense now. It was the hardest thing I have EVER been through in my life. She is my first, and I had know idea it would be that hard.. I kept thinking “well maybe this is just how babies are?”. I thought for sure things would be fine, and normal when she was born….quite the opposite in fact. The thing that scared me the most though… was something my mother had said to me. You see I have 7 brothers and sisters… And at first my mom said things like, oh she’s just fussy, try this, try that…. then she said “None of you were ever this fussy” I consoled in my mom for everything because she had so many babies, she had to know what the heck was going on. She didn’t really believe such a thing as “colic” existed, hey I mean neither did I at first, I thought it was something people just made up, and it was silly… and my mom is tough, very tough… so when SHE said that the baby was very fussy, and she had never seen that before. I thought to myself, omg, if my mom says she has never seen a baby this bad before how am I supposed to deal with this, I am not half the mom she is… Then one day I had the baby over her house, and she became “Colicky” screaming, grunting, screaming, tears, pain, etc for 40 minutes… and my mom just look flabbergasted, she then finally said… yeah I think she does have that colic. I went through let’s just say “hell” for those first 2 months… I almost lost it a few times… but then at around 3-3.5 months things suddenly started to change… The baby started looking at things around her, and wasn’t so interested in crying so much…. She needs attention ALL of the time, people talking to her, shaking things at her, etc…. So she is still a HIGH NEEDS spirited baby, but I will take that over the crying any day of the week! She only likes to be upright, not on her belly, not on her back. She has had her head up since month 2, and she is always trying to “walk” when you hold her. Sometimes I swear she wants to walk so bad that she gets very angry and doesn’t understand why she can’t yet. She doesn’t like being limited to bouncy chairs, and swings things like that. even when you are holding her, she squirms all over the place trying to escape as if she has some big plans she had to take care of. haha. I can see her personality really coming out, and her interest in anything colorful, or artistic looking.. She loves to just stare at things, and isn’t really interested in laughing, or eye contact… she rather ponder about the things around her, cats walking by, or a colorful blanket, she even will stare at her sleeves if they are colorful or have polka-dots or something… she will try and eat them. lol. I can tell everyday more and more she is going to be a handful later on, and need extra attention, but I really think she is just genuinely spirited and interested in this colorful world around her. I can’t wait to see the new changes she will make in the next few months…. I love watching her grow, bittersweet for sure!

  2. Jessica says:

    My 27 Month old Daughter is Spirited to say the very least. When we moved into our home in August of this year she was just under 2. We had a fish tank and one of the fish died. I scooped it out and put it in the toilet and gave him the good burial at sea. She, being upset, asked me where Beano went and I told her he was sick and he went to be with Jesus. I thought that would make her feel better. Later she told me Beano went to be with Jesus and the Poopies. Apparent;y the toilet is the portal to Jesus now! So when a friends dog was sick and died, I told her he went to be with Jesus. Mind you this was months later. She said confused he went in the toilet to be with Jesus? I think she was worried about the dog fitting in the toilet! And now every time someone gets sick she thinks they are going in the toilet to be with Jesus! Boy do I have some explaining to do! The things she comes up with sometimes!

  3. admin says:

    @Carol – If a mother of 8 says she’s never seen anything like this, it’s time to worry! 🙂 I’m glad things are getting easier for you…don’t you feel like you can handle anything now after what you’ve been through? Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. admin says:

    @Jessica…hehe, these spirited kids are so smart! It’s amazing the connections they make. Our sensitive son has always been more sensitive to big issues like death as well…

  5. Sarah says:

    Yeah. When my 6 month old daughter (now 15 mos)spent more time trying to figure out where the lights came from on her projector than just watching the pictures slide across the ceiling, I told my husband that we probably wouldn’t have Santa Claus for very long in our house. =/ She amazes me everyday, but she also exhausts me everyday!