We have an Elf on the Shelf. My cousin first told me about it three or four years ago and I found the idea BRILLIANT. So brilliant that I whined about getting one for a few years before I finally bought one last November. Although it pains my husband to pay for nonessentials, we came up with a plan for the Elf's visit. The behavior problems and yelling and screaming had been escalating and we knew we had to do SOMETHING. Enter, THE ELF.
We wrapped the box and addressed it to the family from Santa on St. Nicholas's Day. We included a letter about behavior and how disappointed Santa would be if they didn't start to turn things around--that simply watching from the North Pole was not enough--he needed a man INSIDE. The Elf was sent as an extra set of eyes for Santa--THAT'S how poorly we'd been behaving. NOT our proudest moment. Don't judge--we were DESPERATE and it was really for the safety of the children. If things didn't turn around SOON, SOMEONE was going to be hospitalized.
The instructions stated that we were only allowed to touch the elf that first time as we placed him on a shelf. We were supposed to name the elf (which in a normal family would be a fun thing to do...IN A NORMAL FAMILY) then modify our behavior so that the elf would only report GOOD things to Santa. For children who believe that a man is able to fly around the world on magic reindeer and deliver presents to billions of children, my six, five and four-year-olds REALLY had a problem believing in this whole elf business.
"But he's just a DOLL. How could A DOLL report anything to SANTA? That doesn't even make SENSE!" Ryan scoffed, clearly unconvinced.
"Well, SANTA sent him, RYAN, so he MUST be real!" Brayden responded earnestly.
"Do we really want to take the chance?" I asked. "Don't you think we are in ENOUGH trouble with Santa?!"
"I just don't understand--he's like--A DOLL--not a REAL elf..." My loud gasp interrupted her. "Well, we should all hope that he didn't hear you say THAT!" I said in my most convincing mom voice."I know I don't want to live in a house that Santa doesn't visit..."
"Denis A. lives in a house where Santa doesn't visit and Mrs. Feldman is Jewish, so Santa doesn't go to HER house either and they seem very happy," Brayden offered.
"Thank you for that. However, Santa WOULD go to their houses if they WANTED him to go to their houses because they BEHAVE and don't need Santa to send an extra elf to keep an eye on them like WE do. Now get upstairs for nap."
All three helped me place the elf on top of the armoire and slowly backed away from him to head upstairs for nap time. When were all upstairs, Ryan remembered she had left her blanket downstairs. She hurried down to get it when my husband saw her circling the elf, scrutinizing every inch. He witnessed her point two fingers at HER eyes then point them back at the elf like Deniro indicating he had eyes on Stiller in the Fockers movies. I think she was missing the point of this whole elf thing.
After nap, my children were STUNNED to see that the elf had moved to another high location. "What could this MEAN?" they asked. "Well, he is supposed to move around so that you don't know WHERE he is, to catch you[hopefully] behaving. He must have wanted to get a better view." This answer appeased Addison, but the other two were still a bit skeptical. Brayden came around first--mostly out of fear of not getting presents, but Ryan...SHE spent most of her time in the room with the elf, watching him and waiting for his next move. About an hour later, we heard a crash and ran to see what had happened. Ryan, the elf, a shoe, some dust (okay...A LOT of dust) and some papers were all on the floor, the victims of some kind of accident. "I just wanted to see if he really WAS a doll, Mommy" Ryan wailed. "I thought if I threw Daddy's shoe at him, maybe he would catch it, but everything fell and I slipped..." We needed a new plan.
That night, the elf "left." hHe left no explanation or forwarding address, but we suspected that perhaps he left because we had disappointed him and Ryan after all had TOUCHED him (which the directions specifically stated NOT to do...this family has a problem with SPECIFIC instructions...we'll get back to that another time) so he was probably either with a new family or back at The North Pole. We hadn't even NAMED him yet (we had only fought and cried for an hour over names), so he probably felt sad and unwelcomed. MAYBE if we REALLY behaved well, he would come back so that we could have another chance with Santa. THIS seemed to resonate with my children and they had a FANTASTIC day. After another day like that one, the elf popped up in Ryan's room with a note that REMARKABLY sounded a lot like our suspicions written above, though he included a line that forgave Ryan for touching him. His name was Ernie--he thought we should know--and he was willing to give us another chance with Santa because he was SO IMPRESSED with the way the previous two days had gone.
Every night until Christmas eve, Ernie moved around our house to keep an eye on things for Santa. Ryan slept with her note for a night or two--I'm not sure what THAT relationship was all about, but she was a believer. THIS year, we decided to bust Ernie out early since the behavior is getting a little rocky. He hasn't been moving locations which baffled the older two. "Why is he in the same spot today as he was yesterday? " Brayden wondered aloud. "Maybe he's tired from his trip," Ryan offered. "Maybe he's giving us a chance to remember how to behave," Brayden added. "Maybe heeeesa DOLL," Addison chimed in from the art desk. Here we go again...
I am a former teacher/ SAHM of three who needed to do SOMETHING so that we would all come out of this alive and unscathed. I don't really have a blogging philosophy, though I have many THEORIES...for example, "In THEORY, it would be a great idea to get off of the computer and wash a dish..." yet here I sit. I have a THEORY that my musings may help people to see that they are not alone--or maybe they will just make ME realize that I AM alone...nah--I'm sticking with my first one. Better than therapy, I tell you!