I took my two-year-old daughter, Hannah, to see Santa Claus for the first time today.

She was so excited, she was practically bubbling over at breakfast this morning. All she could talk about was that after play-school she'd be going to see Santa. We had explained that she needed to tell him what she wanted and that he would bring it to her for Christmas.

Well, it took her no time at all to settle her mind on what she wanted. Since watching the doctor check her mother's heartbeat at the hospital the other day, Hannah has been obsessed with the stethoscope. She wanders around all day explaining to anyone who will listen that the doctor uses a stethoscope to "listen to Mommy's heartbeep." She immediately piped up that she wanted Santa to bring her a stethoscope so she could listen to the baby's heartbeep.

We got to the mall, got in line, and somehow managed to keep her occupied until it was her turn to walk in to see the old elf. She marched proudly in (all 20 pounds of her, she's very small for her age) and the following conversation occurred:

Santa: Hiya, there, widdle girlie-girl! What's widdle girlie-girl's name? (Editorial aside: don't speak to children as if they are stupid. It's rude, condescending, and inexcusable.)
Hannah (sticking her hand out to shake): I'm Hannah.
Santa (picks her up): And would the widdle girlie-girl wike a widdle dolly for Christms?
Hannah (looking at Santa as if he has been smoking crack): No, I want a stethoscope for Christmas.
Santa (astonished at hearing the word 'stethoscope' from a child wearing a 18-month sized outfit): Oh. Do you want to be a doctor when you grow up? (at least he doesn't sound like a moron anymore).
Hannah: Noooooooo, I want to listen to my brother Simon's heartbeep. (Now she's talking to him like he's stupid)

With that, she smiled at the camera and hopped down to run over to me. Santa complimented her speaking, and I brought one ecstatic little girl home from the mall to tell her Mommy all about it.

And I have it on pretty good authority that Santa has, indeed, set aside a little stethoscope just for Hannah this year. <smile>