Rather than say "no" outright I took the easy way out and I told him that if he received an iPod touch he wouldn't get much more than that because it was so expensive.
He looked at me and said "No, Santa doesn't care about money. He just makes it in his machine. I can have as many presents as I want." (And yes, I totally wanted to vomit at that moment, realizing what an awesome job I was clearly doing raising him to be a generous and giving child that doesn't just want,want,want.)
As my stomach settled, I tried to explain to him that there is still a budget, but he had stopped listening by then.
At this point, I should explain that in the MNT family, Santa brings the majority of the gifts. And "Santa" spoils both boys rotten. In the past, my criteria for a Santa gift relied mainly on the wrap-ability of the gift. If it wasn't easy to wrap it came from Santa. Or, if it needed to be put together before Christmas morning (because I refuse to spend all Christmas day trying to put toys together with two boys breathing down my neck) it typically came from Santa - I mean really, how many toys do you put together that actually end up box shaped as the final result?
I now see the strategical misstep on our part following that strategy. The toys get smaller and more expensive as Noah gets older. It's hard to explain the discrepancy of the number of gifts he gets vs Kiel (or the comparative size of the pile - which is still important to him) when his concept of money is still rather fluid. And now that I know he thinks Santa can provide unlimited amounts of toys I know we screwed ourselves right good based on Santa's past Christmas performances.
Tonight Rich took him to Toys "R" Us to pick up something for Kiel that was on sale, and also to get an idea of what Noah was interested in.
During the trip around the store, where Noah was pointing to almost everything and saying he wanted it, Rich brought up the budget issue with Noah. He tried to reinforce that Santa still has an amount of money he spends on each child.
Noah was having nothing to do with that explanation. According to Noah, Santa can make unlimited amounts of anything and money has nothing to do with it.
I wish I could show you Rich's impression of the look on Noah's face - he said it was like Noah just realized the sun came up every morning no matter how cloudy it was. A major revelation!
Noah: (In a troubled voice) I didn't think Santa had to pay for the toys.
Rich: Well, Santa has expenses. He has to pay people to make the toys.
Noah: Oh. Well, who makes the toys for Santa?
Rich: the elves
Noah: (nodding with a wise expression) Ohhhh. Okay. Right.
Issue settled. For tonight anyway.