Also, they drink a lot of hot cocoa in the movie
Last night the kids and I watched “Santa Clause 2,” which was surprising, because it has Tim Allen, who I’ve only ever liked in “Galaxy Quest,” and Elizabeth Mitchell, who I’ve hated ever since she was Kerry Weaver’s girlfriend on ER. But we had popcorn and planned to watch a Christmas movie, and then they both vetoed “A Christmas Story,” so we ended up with SC2.
The movie itself, if you haven’t seen it, is a heartwarming drama in which Santa Claus’s teenage son Charlie is getting in trouble at his fancy private school so Santa Claus, who everyone calls Scott(?), played by Tim Allen, has to go get him out of trouble. To cover up Scott/Santa’s disappearance, a little kid and the moody professor brother from Num3ers make a cyborg Santa to hold down the North Pole while Scott’s gone to straighten out Charlie. Oh, and if Scott doesn’t get married by midnight on Christmas Eve he has to stop being Santa (the titular clause). Wacky high jinks ensue, including the predictable outcome of creating a cyborg. (As soon as we saw Elizabeth Mitchell as the tight-laced principal of Charlie’s school, my 8-year-old and I rolled our eyes, knowing she was going to marry Scott just in the nick of time.)
Anyway, Charlie lives with his mom, stepdad, and half-sister. So I assumed there was going to be some big drama between Charlie’s mom Laura and her ex-husband, Santa Scott, because of course divorced co-parents hate each others’ guts, right?
But no. Not only did Scott and Laura not dislike each other, they seemed genuinely happy to see each other, as did Scott and Laura’s husband. The three of them went in as a united front to talk to the principal, and then Scott stayed at Laura and her husband’s house and they all sat around drinking cocoa. He told them about the clause that he had to get married, and they told him where to look for a wife, and gave him fashion and dating advice, and didn’t seem to have any bones to pick with him about anything.
Now I never saw the first “Santa Clause,” so maybe that movie presents some kind of extraordinary circumstance that allows Charlie’s parents–all three of them–to get along. Because for sure it’s not the norm in the media for divorced couples to deviate from either the “I hate your guts” trope or the “I act like I hate your guts but that’s only because I’m still in love with you” trope. Maybe you’re allowed to grow as people if one of you also gets to be a mythical creature.
But holy crap. Wouldn’t it be nice if the expectation was that as soon as the dust settles you can actually start getting along with the person you made a kid with? And that your boundaries are healthy enough that you don’t have to be too harsh or too accommodating? And that your kid doesn’t have to pretend not to love both or all of you? (In the movie, Charlie was acting out at school because he was stressed out by not being able to tell anyone his dad was Santa. Not because his parents were divorced. And at the end of the movie he got to tell his half-sister so she could know and they could talk about it together.)
So while it was mostly a waste of two hours, I’m not sorry that my kids spent some time watching a movie with divorced parents who were kind and friendly to each other. For a long, long time it was my greatest wish that LOD and I could get along well enough that the kids could feel secure when they were around us together. I’m going to add a little clause (thank you) to that wish now, that they grow up thinking it’s normal for divorced parents to get along.