There was high excitement last week when we turned up for our (socially distanced, pre-booked) visit to Santa’s Grotto at Glendoick Garden Centre.
We shouldn’t have been surprised that it was the same Santa as two years ago (I forgot to book last year) because, after all, there is only one Santa.
This year, the red-suited Father Christmas had some words of advice for my sons: “Boys,” he said, “Don’t grow up too quickly.”
They struck a chord with me immediately.
Don’t you find they’re growing up faster than we ever did?
Maybe it’s the internet – or maybe we blame everything on the internet.
But there’s YouTube – a portal into the worlds of online “stars” like the little boy called Ryan whose parents have edited videos of him playing until he’s a global superstar, worth a fortune with his own toy range.
Or gamers like Stampy who have millions of followers who watch them play Minecraft.
Like so many parents, I limit the boys’ time staring at a screen.
But I allow it because I don’t want them missing out on the things that kids are doing in 2020 – that they’ll talk about in 2040 with rose-tinted spectacles.
Oh my, 2040 – there’s a thought.
I’ve been holding off on the dreaded “Fortnite” as long as possible.
But when your son tells you everyone in his class is playing it and talking about it at school the next day – how can your heart not feel for them? You want them to be part of what’s happening.
Over to TV and the instant gratification of things like Netflix, with all sorts of series aimed at kids.
In my day, I remember elation if I caught something like the Magic Roundabout on the telly.
And before you know it, they know the lyrics to adverts, absentmindedly singing “Washing machines live longer with Calgon”; they talk in Americanisms (I dedicated a whole column to that recently and it resonated with lots of you) asking if they can have more candy; mimicking warriors with guns they’ve seen in games.
But then, there are moments of card games and hangman; “Xs and Os” and reading books when I realise not everything’s changed.
“Don’t grow up too fast” you want to scream, kissing their chubby wee cheeks.
I was thinking all of these things as Santa offered his pearls of wisdom.
You might say I was having a moment . . . which was interrupted by a newly turned-six-year-old eyeing up a basket of wrapped presents.
“Excuse me Santa, when do we get our present?” he asked.
Thankfully Santa saw the funny side and thanked him for his honesty.
From the mouths of babes – or kids – which, I guess, is exactly what we want them to be.