Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Is This Elf Drunk?

Photo Credit:
I'm confused. This is not unusual for me, but if anyone can clear this up for me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

What is the deal with the Elf On the Shelf? Is he supposed to teach kids to be good, or is he supposed to show them what not to do to stay on Santa's nice list? I'm getting some mixed signals around here.

Let me back up. First off, I'm old. My childhood was pre-EOtS, so I have absolutely zero experience with the little guy. When I was little, I had Albert P. Elf, First Class. Albert was one of Santa's helpers, and he reported on my behavior to the Fat Man, himself. When he moved into our chimney the day after Thanksgiving, he would always leave a little candy or trinket to let me know he was in the house. Then, throughout the season he would leave little letters (just one or two) to let me know how I was doing. Albert was strict, but he could be softened up with a little pumpkin bread. Finally, on Christmas Eve morning, as he left for the North Pole, he would leave one final note along with a small gift, just to let me know that I was on the Nice List, and Santa would be by that night.

I loved Albert. When Curtis (my baby bro) got old enough to really understand Santa, Albert came back to watch him, and Curt loved him. Every child who came into that house over the years heard about Albert, and more than a few tried to see up the chimney to catch a glimpse of the little fellow. He's sneaky, though, so while we occasionally heard him rumbling around in there, we never saw him.

Albert is the awesome.

Here lies my confusion. According to the EOtS site, elves are scouts (like Albert), and they do report children's behavior to Santa. They're playful, though, so they like to play hide-and-seek. I'm totally cool with that. I get that. Curt was always curious as to what Albert looked like, so now the kids can see their elves. That's precious.


...I keep running across pictures on the internet that show the elf doing things that should land him on the naughty list. These are not joke pics on Facebook, either. These are on parenting sites as "cute and appropriate" ideas. I'm sorry, but toilet papering the tree or xeroxing your butt are neither cute nor appropriate ideas. I'm not a mom, but I know moms, and most of them would be horrified if their child did either of those things. Why give them the idea, or worse yet, encourage this behavior? One site had a hungover elf hanging over the toilet. That's funny for an adult (yes, I chuckled), but not really the best example of "nice list" behavior. (By the way: some of the ideas on these sites really were sweet. I especially like the elf getting caught emailing Santa. I don't mean to give them a hard time, because I think they meant well, but some ideas needed to be vetted a little better, in my opinion. Thank you.)

I thought it was just me. I thought I just didn't get it. Then I read this hilarious post by Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Jen ran across a list of 101 things to do with your EOtS, and had some problems with a few of the suggestions. Her main gripe was about over-achieving mothers who work way too hard on this little tradition, but we were both horrified at some the ideas. Why would she want to draw mustaches on her kids' school pictures when she'd spent years trying to teach them what surfaces were and were not suitable for markers? Why would she want to undecorate the tree, just to have to redecorate it? I'd send you to the list, but it's been taken down. I can only guess why.

Don't get me wrong. I think EOtS is adorable. I just think it's a counterproductive to have it acting naughty--not mischievous; naughty--and it's wasting a valuable teaching opportunity. (Again, I don't have kids, but I have mom friends, and my little bro is young enough to be my child, so I helped raise him when he was small. I'm not a mom, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.) Why not have the elf demonstrate "nice" behavior? I mean, that is what he's reporting, and it can still be cute and fun for the kiddies. I brainstormed a bit with my own mom, and we came up with a few ideas that might be helpful if you decide to go this route.

1) Unloading the Dishwasher: Have the dishwasher open and a few plates taken out. Your elf can sit on the plates with his hands grasping a towel. How sweet of him to help out!

2) Folding Laundry: Your elf can sit on a stack of clean towels and "fold" a washcloth.

3) Stamping Christmas Cards: Buddy (or whatever) can help Mom or Dad with the annual Christmas chore.

4) Brushing Teeth: Elfie can hold onto li'l bit's toothbrush and toothpaste, to remind them how "nice" it is to have clean teeth.

5) Packing the Bookbag: Your little elf can help put the books in your child's bag.

6) Picking Up Shoes (or Hats, or Gloves...): I was always horrible about putting my shoes up as a kid. Still am, actually. Maybe your little elf could be found putting an errant shoe back in the closet?

7) Playing a Video Game: It doesn't all have to be chores! As long as the elf has straightened up the out of place games, there's no reason he can't enjoy some play time! Have the elf sit in front of the tv and hold a controller.

8) Drawing a Picture: On paper. Not the wall. Not a photo. Just on paper. For someone in the family. That's nice.

9) Holding a Treat For Your Child: If your kid has been particularly "nice", why not have elfikins hold a bag of marshmallows for s'mores, or a candy bar, or even a little handmade certificate for pizza and a video rental?

10) Wrapping a Gift: Maybe your elf can be caught wrapping either a small gift for your child, or one for a charity toy drive or a family member (not living at home)? That's definitely a "nice" thing to do!

Again, not hating on the Elf, or on the idea pages. I just got some very mixed signals, and wonder how many kids were just as confused as I was. Let me know your feelings in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. the elf on the shelf thing is CREEPY. i can't even wrap my brain around it. it freaks me out to no end.


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