Kenneth Knepper: Parents can write wish-list letters to Santa, too

Kenneth Knepper

There’s nothing more endearing and adorable than a child writing a letter to Santa, seeking an entitlement of gifts by pointing out his many attributes throughout the year.

I was reminded of those heartfelt expressions a few nights ago when I reviewed my son’s letter to Santa, which began by pointing out his conduct was superior.

“This year, I’ve been so good that I should be the angel on top of the tree,” it read.

There may be a strong argument countering his claim — especially in any situation where his mother and I sought to have his toys/coats/homework/dirty dishes placed into an appropriate storage space within a timely manner.

There also were moments when he conveniently forgot about chores, even though I posted a list of them in large type on a dresser in his room.

However, without seeking clarification from a family law attorney, I decided that overall, he met the criteria of being a good child.

Besides, long ago I learned arguing with children was much like dealing with an entire office of attorneys, anyway.

In the body of his letter, he asked Santa how long he had been married, whether he liked Star Wars characters and, “do you know my dad, Ken?”

At first, I considered it an odd question, but then realized he had provided me a premier opportunity to write my own note to Santa, seeking the rewards of an especially commendable year.

So, with pen in hand, I crafted what I felt was a literary masterpiece — perhaps of Pulitzer Prize quality — outlining the struggles and challenges of parenting that should translate to numerous gifts. 

Dear Santa:

You must be surprised I’m writing to you — especially when you’re trying to figure out how to deliver my son’s laundry list of toys and still have time to reach the roughly 350 million other children around the world in a single night.

First of all, I want you to know I no longer harbor ill feelings toward you for not delivering a motorcycle to me on my 14th Christmas. Actually, the board games I received taught me a great deal when my parents exposed my general lack of gaming knowledge for the next four years until I left for college.

If I didn’t know better, I might have suspected my parents were at the root of the choices, picking their favorites just to keep me humble.

As you already know, my behavior during the past 12 months has been exemplary.

My wife may claim otherwise, but please keep in mind she sometimes shows signs of stress (undoubtedly caused by the children), which renders her ability to distinguish good from bad, questionable at best.

As you’re aware from dealing with a unionized group of elves in a workshop, parenting challenges me each day.

While I must admit there have been instances when I fantasized duct taping each of them to the inside of a closet, I’ve maintained my composure.

I’ve cleaned up vomit that was strewn so far across a child’s room I swore his head must have spun completely around like a lawn sprinkler. I renewed my memory of states and capitals from the Southeast and Northeast regions of the U.S. for a test, practiced multiplication facts and made countless trips to stores late at night to purchase poster board, tape, glue and glitter pens for a school project that was due in 11 hours.

However, I won’t bore you with the many other instances that challenged my parental confidence.

Instead, I would just like to ask for the following:

1. Additional memory. I fear a moment when my Blackberry event calendar stops functioning, leaving me to remember on my own where I just dropped off a child. I would appreciate the same brain capacity as my wife, who forgets nothing, especially home projects she says I promised to complete years ago.

2. Some type of self-projecting video feed would be helpful, so I could gain a child’s attention while he’s engrossed in a television program. Perhaps also, I could be cast in cartoon form, since he can recite literally every SpongeBob episode word for word but doesn’t remember to gather the trash every Tuesday morning.

3. Occasionally, please add four hours of extra time to an evening. Perhaps that would provide a chance for me to share details from my day — instead of remembering important items related to the family at 2:42 a.m. when everyone wants to remain asleep.

I realize this list might stretch your abilities as a gift-giver, so I understand if it becomes necessary to submit a Plan B.

If you struggle to fulfill this year’s list, just deliver a motorcycle and plenty of duct tape instead.

Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan in Newton, Kan. He can be contacted at