Blazing through Navy life one duty station at a time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Elf

Add this to the list of things I swore I'd never do as a parent - we are soliciting good behavior from our child with the help of an Elf on the Shelf this year.

Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf?  Basically, it's a little stuffed elf that you put up on the shelf in your house. He (or she) watches over your child during the day and reports back to Santa at night.  Then, every morning your child finds the elf in a different location in your house and the "game" starts anew.  You can read more about it here.

Before we had children we had big aspirations in terms of how we would raise our child.  I'm sure that bribery, exaggeration, and fibbing were just a few things we swore we would never engage in.  Three years in, I can safely say that all that has gone out the window and we are now simply making it up as we go.

Last year when I first learned about The Elf on the Shelf, I had mixed feelings.  We had always planned for Santa Claus to have a part of our Christmas traditions.  Personally, I think there's not enough magic in the world these days, and I really want my child to hold on to the wonder and fun of his childhood as long as possible.  But in my mind, telling him about a mystical man who mysteriously brings presents on Christmas Eve seemed a little different than trying to convince him that a stuffed elf sitting on the shelf was actually flying to the North Pole at night to report his daily behavior to said mystical man.  Plus, shouldn't we be teaching him that good behavior is important all year long, and not just in time for presents (we are, but it does bother me a little that there is an emphasis on being extra good for Christmas)?  I know - it's all totally outrageous and I was overthinking it.  So I just decided to go with it and see what happened.

Our elf is visiting for the first time this year - last year I didn't get him until 3 days before Christmas, and I figured a two year old who was barely talking wouldn't really notice or care.  This year is different though.  The second Thanksgiving was over I was bombarded with questions about whether it was Christmastime yet and when Santa was bringing presents.  So out came the elf and the advent calendar.  I can't say that the presence of our elf (who remains unnamed - Little Dude refuses to give him a name and instead says "Please Mommy, what's his name?") has made any significant difference in his behavior to date.  But that's okay, because he's pretty well behaved normally, and I would be a little suspicious if all of the sudden the presence of a stuffed elf changed his behavior drastically.  Mostly, he's enjoying the game of finding his elf' every morning (which means not only do I have to remember to move him, but I have to be creative!).

I believe that, for kids (and probably for all of us), Christmas should have a little mystery, excitement and wonder to it.  So I'm leaving all my questions and concerns about good parenting at the door and focusing on the fun little tradition we've started and the spirit of the season.

Our elf, chilling out on the airplane that hangs above our fireplace.