Thursday, December 12, 2013

Never Say Never: Elf on the Shelf

I vividly remember when the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon hit the stores, I vehemently declared that it would never enter our home.  First of all, it is creepy.  This little elf spies on you all day and comes creeping around at night when you sleeping? Who knows where it will end up? In your room? Next to you? While you are sleeping? Kind of sounds like the horror film Chucky, no?

The Elf on the Shelf pretty much stood for everything I was against: motivation by scare tactics instead of teaching kids to be self-aware and value kindness. I don't want my kids to make good choices because they are afraid to make wrong choices; I want them to make good choices because it feels good.

But saying never is such an armature parenting move. The first rule in parenting club is never say never. (Said like brad Pitt in Fight Club).

So why did I break down and let Elf on the Shelf wander its way into your home?

Ever so slightly, I could see that glimmer of magic start to fade from Marie's eyes.  

She was trying a little too hard to sound excited about writing letters to Santa.  

I saw a dash of doubt across her face when talking about kids who might not believe in Santa.

She is in the 2nd grade, people! In my book, that is way too young to not fully buy into the magic of Santa.

So I sold my soul to the devil and bought an Elf on the Shelf.  Marie expressed hope that one would arrive at our house, and just like the movie, it appeared on our doorstep on December 1st.

Her eyes twinkled as she carefully opened the box and read the story to Thomas. She had her name all picked out in hopes of his arrival: Snowball.

Ah, poor Thomas.  He has had to take one for the team. He looked at the Elf as an evil, little imp.  He did not like the 24-hour surveillance system that would report all of his not-so-good choices back to Santa.  He was scared it would appear in his room (I totally get this fear). He named it Poopy Pants in retaliation and defiance: no elf is going to change him!

But he slowly came around. He has quietly read his wish list to Snowball Poopy Pants. He has told him when he thinks I'm being mean.  He's working on making his peace.

Today, Snowball wrote the kids a note telling them all the good things he has seen them doing with gentle reminders to practice kindness and pick up their toys.  Their eyes sparkled as they witnessed a bit of Christmas magic, but they also looked so proud of all the nice things Snowball said about them.

Elf on the Shelf Mommy on the Spot
Besides Snowball eating popcorn, this has been the only other "creative" thing he has  done.
Usually he can be found doing something very non-Pinteresty, like hanging from a light or on a shelf.

Not only am I making my peace with Snowball, but I think he has bought me at least one year of Santa magic.

Yes, I sacrificed my parenting values for a shot to keep Marie's awe and faith in Christmas magic embedded in her childhood.

Small price, I think.

Have you ever said never on a firm parenting belief?