Changed my mind

I was four years old and I had been a good girl the last weeks: I had been quiet when I had to listen to my teacher, I had cleaned up my toys, .... So I was ready for Sinterklaas.

My parents had already enquired what I was going to ask to Sinterklaas and I knew quite well what I wanted this year. There had been a nature documentary with little lion cubs in it and that would be a great playmate in our garden. I could perfectly see me gooffing around with my pet cub in the grass, rolling, chasing each other. Ooooh and it was going to be a really soft cub. Very fluffy! I was going to be special as all the other kids only had cats and dogs and I was going to play with my lion cub. But they could come over as well to play!!! I was looking forward to it.

My parents had a very worried look on their face when I told them my wish. And they tried to explain me that you cannot keep a wild lion cub in the garden. They told me he'd become dangerous etc...But they didn't understand. I wanted one that remained little. I knew already that there exist midget rabbits and poneys that remain small. I wanted the same thing, but for a lion. And we'd be great friends and have a lot of fun: my cub would not hurt me. It wasn't going to be a problem.

So when the teacher in school let us draw our Sinterklaas drawings and our wishes, I tried to draw a lion cub. And I told everyone that Sinterklaas would bring me a cup. All the adults were annoying as they all told me the same thing: that a lion cub was dangerious and could not kept in our garden. But Sinterklaas would understand me, so I was not really worried.

The big day got close and I was a really good girl. The Friday before December 6th, Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten traditionally visited our school. All excited I went to school with my mom, who was an elementary school teacher in the same school where I was going to the kindergarten. At our arrival there was already loud Sinterklaassongs playing through the loudspeakers of the playground and some of my friends were dancing. After lunch we all gathered on the playground to wait for the arrival of Sinterklaas. I was so nervous! I was holding my teacher's hand and staring at the gate.

But all of a sudden we heard lots of noice from the other side of the playground where a couple of Zwarte Pieten arrived with 4-5 on one bicycle, zigzagging towards us with a lot of noise. We all sheered and waved to get the attention of the crazy Zwarte Pieten and sung our songs even louder. Right after them, Sinterklaas arrived in our school in a much more solemn way and got welcomed by our school director.

Afterwards Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten visited our class and they read in their big book to see if we all had been good children. We sung Sinterklaas songs for him and handed him our drawings,... I was a bit too impressed and too shy to go and ask Sinterklaas personally for my little cub. But that was ok. Sinterklaas knows everything and he would know what I wanted. In the evening we all gathered on the playground again to say goodbye to Sinterklaas and his crazy Zwarte Pieten who performed their last acrobatics and then they left through the gate.

As always I ran upstairs to my mom's classroom where I played a bit until she was ready to go home. First she had to pick up something in the teacher's room. When she came out again, she was joined by...Sinterklaas!!! Sinterklaas had forgotten something, had come back and had been drinking a cup of coffee with the teachers in their teacher's room. Wow, I got to see Sinterklaas a second time and this time I didn't have to share his attention with all the other kids!!

My mom asked me "Goofball, have you told Sinterklaas already what you would like to get this year?" while she seemed to send a strong look at him.
Shyly I shook my head.

"My dear Goofball, what is it that you wish to receive from me this year", Sinterklaas asked me directly.
"...eumm, I would really like to get a little lion cub, Sinterklaas"

Sinterklaas pauzed a bit and touched his long white beard with his white gloves and the big ring on his finger while he was looking at me.
"A little lion cub, I see.... Hmm, actually I had already a doll that you can feed and that can go on a potty for you in mind. I had the idea you'd really love that. Wouldn't you enjoy such a doll do you think? "

While I was still staring up at Sinterklaas's long white beard and his friendly face, the magic of a doll that could be fed and that could go on a potty struck me and I nodded enthousiastically. "Yes Sinterklaas"

That night I already dreamed about my new doll that I'd receive after I had put my shoe at the fireplace , filled with sugar and a carrot for Sinterklaas's horse!
In the morning of December 6, I stormed down the stairs to find a doll that could be fed and that could pee on a potty. It has been my favourite doll throughout my childhood!

....and my lion cub??? Well Jan bought me a little stuffed one when he heard of this story :).

PS: want to read more about Sinterklaas and this tradition? Look here. And over at Fourier Analyst who did an excellent job of explaining it all: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI.


Oh, WHAT a lovely story! It actually made me teary. Your adults were sure looking out for you. You really captured the magic of Sinterklaas or Santa for children. And Jan's a sweetie for buying you that cub.

Your writing is remarkable.

When C was your age, he wanted a live moose - figuring we could keep it in our living room. ;-)
Fourier Analyst said…
Aaaahhh!! the Magic of SinterKlaas! Isn't it amazing that you get what you really want, even when you don't know that you want it! Your Mom was sure clever in getting Sint to talk to you personally to find out your true heart's desire!

Happy SinterKlaas neighbour! Hope you get your heart's desire again this year!!

BTW, thanks so much for the links! I am getting a lot of traffic, even if not many comments, so I know some folks are reading!!
Snooker said…
Thank you for sharing a lovely, well-written, and quite touching story.
What a sweet story-- That Sinterklaas is so wise and generous!

My parents were horrified when I asked for a chemistry set 3 Christmasses in a row. The idea of a 9, 10, or 11 year old mixing chemicals in the house was too much.
anno said…
Oh.... lovely story! I'm glad you finally ended getting a cub from Jan -- those stuffed ones really are much easier to maintain around the house!

Happy SinterKlaas Day!
Wholly Burble said…
Such a lovely story--I really couldn't figure out how it would end happily. Thank goodness you had such a creative Mom, and a kind-hearted Sinterklaas to bring you to a "happily ever after" ending.

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